Iran Denies US Claim That It Attacked Tankers In Gulf Of Oman

Clay Curtis
June 16, 2019

He did not say whether this was before or after the attacks. Nearly one-fifth of the world's oil exports - from Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and Iraq - is exported using this route.

He was referring to a video released on Thursday by the United States military which said it showed Iran's Revolutionary Guards were behind the blasts that struck the Norwegian-owned Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman, at the mouth of the Gulf.

In a statement released with the video, the U.S. Central Command said video footage showed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Gashti Class patrol boat alongside the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous "removing [an] unexploded limpet mine". The statement said USS Bainbridge, a guided missile destroyer, intervened "at the request of the [tanker's] master" and transferred the crew members aboard the USA vessel. Tehran has said it could block the Strait of Hormuz, the main route out for Middle Eastern oil, if its own exports were halted.

Iran also denied being involved in last month's attacks.

However, this latest development - in conjunction with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's allegations that Iran was behind the attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman - have raised concerns over an imminent conflict. But, the class of vessel, what the USA military has called a fast inshore attack craft (FIAC), was the same type of ship used by Iran to harass American warships in the Persian Gulf in recent years. However, Iran previously used mines against oil tankers in 1987 and 1988 in the "Tanker War", when the U.S. Navy escorted ships through the region.

"If this goes on as it has been going on for two months now we will see a military escalation before the end of the Trump administration", Steinberg told DW. An initial report that Kokuka Courageous was struck by a torpedo was dismissed by a source familiar with the issue.

Katada added that the ship's 25,000 tonnes methanol shipment had not been damaged in the attack.

The blasts caused a fire on board, but Katada said Friday there had not been major damage. The blaze that sent smoke towering into the air charred the ship's hull. All 21 crew members abandoned the ship and were reportedly rescued by an Iranian vessel.

In Tokyo, the owner of Kokuka Courageous said Friday that the tanker had been attacked twice.

The U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

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"Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to worldwide peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran", Pompeo said.

Iran labelled the apparent attacks "suspicious" as its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rebuffed overtures by Abe to open talks with US President Donald Trump.

Since then Washington has toughened its sanctions regime, seeking to force Iran's oil customers to slash their imports.

Iran accused Washington of waging an "Iranophobic campaign" against it, while Trump countered that the country was "a nation of terror".

The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Thursday and discussed the attacks at the request of the United States.

Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi denied responsibility Friday.

The anti-U.S. rhetoric had also been echoed by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the Wednesday meeting with Abe.

The attack has led to accusations being traded and heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Earlier on Friday, Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko refused to comment on USA statements that Iran is involved in the attacks on the tankers. Japan was a big Iranian oil importer until Trump stepped up sanctions.

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