Iran on Friday categorically rejected claims of the United States blaming it for the attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, reported BBC. “Iran categorically rejects the US unfounded claim with regard to 13 June oil tanker incidents, and condemns it in the strongest possible terms,” the Iranian mission to the United Nations said in a statement.
Two commercial oil tankers carrying inflammable materials caught fire in suspected attacks on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman. Twenty one crew members were on board the Singapore-owned Kokuka Courageous and 23 people were on the Norwegian-owned tanker Front Altair. All were rescued. The incident drove up oil prices and stoked fears of a new confrontation between Iran and the United States.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the “unprovoked attacks”. “This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication,” Pompeo said at a press conference in Washington. However, he did not provide any evidence to back his remarks.
After Iran’s denial, the US military’s Central Command released a video which they claimed showed that Iran was involved in the attack. An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps patrol boat “was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the Kokuka Courageous”, said the US.
The incident comes amid rising tensions between Tehran and Washington. “This is only the latest in a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests, and they should be understood in the context of 40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom-loving nations,” said Pompeo.
Pompeo said that he has asked US ambassador to the UN, Jonathan Cohen, to raise Iran’s attacks in the Security Council meeting.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described Thursday’s incidents as suspicious on Twitter, noting that they occurred during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Tehran visit. The minister called for regional dialogue. “Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning. Iran’s proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is imperative,” Zarif said on Twitter.
Hours later, US President Donald Trump said Iran is not ready for a deal right now. “While I very much appreciate P.M. Abe going to Iran to meet with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, I personally feel that it is too soon to even think about making a deal. They are not ready, and neither are we!” he tweeted.