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Iranian flags in February 2019 at the Shahid Beheshti Port in Chabahar, on the Gulf of Oman. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday accused Iran of being responsible for attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz and a string of other incidents, saying the regime was engaged in "an unacceptable campaign of escalating tensions."

Why it matters: Fears that the U.S. was on course for war with Iran had been reduced in recent days, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe traveling to Tehran on a Trump-endorsed mission to reduce tensions. But Pompeo's tone was hawkish today in declaring Iran "a clear threat to international peace and security."

  • Pompeo did not present any evidence that Iran was responsible, but said that the U.S. would raise the attacks at the UN Security Council today.
  • Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, denied responsibility for the attacks and said the timing was ""suspicious." Meanwhile Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, told Abe that Iran would not engage in negotiations with President Trump.

Pompeo said Iran was attempting to follow through on its threat to "disrupt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz," and was "lashing out" in the face of the Trump administration's "successful maximum pressure campaign."

  • Between the lines: “If Iran was behind it, it is very clear the maximum pressure policy of the Trump administration is rendering Iran more aggressive, not less," Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group told the Washington Post.

A U.S. defense official had previously said it was "highly likely" that Iran caused Thursday's attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, CBS reported.

Catch up quick: Japan’s Trade Ministry said the oil tankers had "Japan-related cargo." Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrapped up a high-stakes visit in Iran on Thursday, which sought to ease tensions between Tehran and Washington, the AP reports.

Go deeper: U.S. Navy assists 2 oil tankers in Oman Sea after reports of explosion

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Florida records most new daily COVID cases in state since pandemic began

Nurses bring a portable x-ray machine to a treatment tent outside the emergency department at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, set up to serve as an overflow area as the number of COVID-19 infections surges throughout Brevard County. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida reported 21,683 new COVID-19 cases — the most in the state in a single day since the pandemic began, per data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday.

The big picture: Florida is now the U.S. coronavirus epicenter, with the Delta variant driving a surge, Axios Tampa Bay's Ben Montgomery notes.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

Chart: Less than 0.1% of vaccinated Americans tested positive for COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: CDC and state Covid dashboards. Dani Alberti/Axios

Of the 164 million vaccinated Americans, around 125,000 people have tested positive for breakthrough infections and 0.001% have died, according to state data compiled from state dashboards by NBC and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: While "breakthrough cases" have been getting media attention, the low numbers show that the pandemic is mostly a threat for the unvaccinated population.

Biden officials celebrate infrastructure deal in fuel-cell big rig

White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm celebrated progress on President Biden's infrastructure package by taking a spin in a Kenworth fuel-cell, zero-emissions Class A truck.

What they're saying: "We have a deal, a Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework deal," Granholm said. McCarthy responded: "it's big and it's beautiful."

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