United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called for an independent inquiry into the oil tanker attacks two days ago in the Gulf of Oman. Guterres asked for the investigation after the United States blamed Iran for the attacks, Reuters reported.
The international body’s chief also said that he was willing to mediate between the two countries if both the parties agreed, adding that “at the present moment we don’t see a mechanism of dialogue possible to be in place”.
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 Japanese-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.
In view of the escalating tensions between the two countries, Guterres said that “it’s very important to know the truth”. “It’s very important that responsibilities are clarified,” Reuters quoted him as saying. “Obviously that can only be done if there is an independent entity that verifies those facts.”
United States President Donald Trump on Friday declared that the attacks on the two oil tankers had “Iran written all over it. “Iran did do it,” Trump told Fox News. “You know they did it because you saw the boat. I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it.”
Trump was referring to a video that the United States military released purportedly showing an Iranian patrol boat removing “an unexploded limpet mine” from one of the oil tankers. Iran has, however, refuted the allegations and said thta it had nothing to do with the attacks.
Iraninan Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticised the United States for rushing to accuse Iran without evidence. “That the US immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran – without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence – only makes it abundantly clear that the #B_Team is moving to a #PlanB: Sabotage diplomacy – including by @AbeShinzo – and cover up its #EconomicTerrorism against Iran.”
Iran has repeatedly warned that it may block the Hormuz Strait as a countermeasure to an attack by the United States. “It’s not going to be closed, it’s not going to be closed for long and they know it,” Trump said, according to AFP. “They’ve been told in very strong terms.”
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Friday asked the United States to be calm with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo amid rising tensions. During a phone call, Mahdi told Pompeo that Iraq was “striving for calm”. The prime minister has also offered to mediate between the two countries, PTI reported.