Washington, June 24, 2019 (AFP) -
President Donald Trump on Monday told other countries to protect their own Gulf oil shipments, declaring that the United States has only limited strategic interest in the "dangerous" region.
In a pair of tweets, Trump said US aims regarding Iran boil down to "No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror."
As for Iran's threats to shut sea lanes used to transport a large portion of the world's oil exports through the Persian Gulf, Washington is not concerned, Trump said.
Stating that the United States is now the world's biggest energy producer, thereby weaning itself off decades of dependence on Middle Eastern oil, Trump said "we don't even need to be there."
And the US military should not be depended upon to keep the narrow sea routes along Iran's coast free.
"Why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation," he asked. "All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been a dangerous journey."
As for Tehran, Trump said, his only demand is that the country not pursue nuclear weapons and halts what the United States claims is backing for terrorist groups.
"The U.S. request for Iran is very simple," he wrote.
Iran insists that it does not have a nuclear weapons program and it signed onto an international pact in 2015 meant to ensure that its nuclear industry sticks to civilian uses. Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2017, seeking its collapse.
Trump's latest signalling of a pullback from what has long been a region featuring an intense US presence comes amid growing military tension between the United States and Iran.
On Friday, Trump called off a bombing strike on Iranian facilities that had been planned as retaliation for the downing by Iran of a US spy drone.
Earlier, mysterious attacks were carried out on oil tankers transiting the same area. They were blamed on Iran by Washington, although the Iranians say they were not involved.
Trump's tweets add to his record of seeking a wider drawdown of the US diplomatic and military footprint around the world.