Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Reuters

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused Iran of being behind the attacks on oil tankers in a vital Gulf shipping channel, AFP reports, quoting an interview the Crown Prince gave to the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

He added that the kingdom "won't hesitate" to tackle any threats to the kingdom, according to the interview published on Sunday.

"We do not want a war in the region... But we won't hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests," Prince Mohammed told Asharq al-Awsat.

"The Iranian regime did not respect the presence of the Japanese prime minister as a guest in Tehran and responded to his (diplomatic) efforts by attacking two tankers, one of which was Japanese," he charged.

His comments follow Thursday’s attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

The prince also accused "Iran and its proxies" of being behind the May 12 attacks on four tankers anchored in the Gulf of Oman off the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah.

Thursday's attack on two tankers -- the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous that was carrying highly flammable methanol when it was rocked by explosions and the Norwegian-operated Front Altair -- came around the time Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting with Iranian leaders in Tehran.

US President Donald Trump has said the twin attacks had Iran "written all over it", rejecting Tehran's vehement denial.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo similarly accused Iran of being behind the attacks in the Gulf of Oman.

The US Central Command later released footage that purports to show the crew of an Iranian patrol boat removing an object from the hull of the Japanese tanker.

Saudi Arabia, a close US ally, is a bitter regional rival of Iran.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly called on Iran to stop its “meddling” in the affairs of the kingdom's neighbors. Iran, in turn, has accused Saudi Arabia of trying to “drag the entire region into confrontation”.