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US says video shows Iran was involved in an attack on tanker

The video was the first evidence publicly put forward by the US to support its claim.

American officials released images they said show that Iran was involved in an attack on an oil tanker near the entrance to the Persian Gulf on Thursday, one of a pair of incidents that have raised tensions between the US and the Islamic Republic over the past day.

An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps patrol boat “was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the Kokuka Courageous,” one of two tankers attacked on Thursday, according to Navy Captain Bill Urban of the US Central Command. That was after another mine had already detonated, damaging the ship, the US said.

The video and photographs showing a boat alongside the hull of a larger vessel with a hole in its side were released by Central Command along with a timeline of the episode.

Adding to the intrigue, Yutaka Katada, the president of tanker operator Kokuka Sangyo, said Friday in Tokyo that the Kokuka Courageous crew saw a projectile hit the ship and believed it was unlikely the vessel was hit by a mine. The company couldn’t say whether the ship was attacked by Iran or whether an Iranian vessel removed a mine, another company official said.

The video was the first evidence publicly put forward by the US to support its claim — announced earlier on Thursday by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo — that Iran was behind the attacks. Iranian officials have rejected the accusation.

“Both vessels were in international waters in the Gulf of Oman approximately 10 nautical miles apart at the time of the distress calls,” Urban said in a statement, adding that the crew of the Courageous was rescued by a Dutch tug and later taken aboard the USS Bainbridge. He said that the crew of the second tanker, the Front Altair, were put aboard a Revolutionary Guard vessel.

Methanol shipment

Earlier Kokuka Sangyo, the Japanese operator of the Courageous, said it was attacked twice on Thursday, in incidents that were three hours apart, forcing the crew to evacuate. The tanker was carrying 25 000 tons of methanol from Saudi Arabia to Asia. Japanese public broadcaster NHK, citing Kokuka Sangyo’s chief executive officer, said the ship was hit by a shell.

The manager of the Norwegian-owned Front Altair said it was sailing in international waters when it was damaged by an explosion, and that the episode was being treated as a “hostile attack.” The ship had loaded a cargo of naphtha in Abu Dhabi and was bound for Taiwan, a company official said.

Hours before Central Command provided its evidence to bolster the US accusations, Pompeo pinned the blame at Iran but declined to take questions from reporters.

“The United States will defend its forces, interests and stand with our partners and allies to safeguard global commerce and regional stability,” Pompeo said, noting that Iran had previously threatened to curtail oil transport in the Strait of Hormuz.

Denies involvement

Iranian officials denied any involvement, with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggesting that Iran’s enemies may have been behind the attacks and reiterating calls for a regional dialogue.

“Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired,” he wrote on Twitter earlier on Thursday.

Global benchmark Brent crude was little changed at $61.35 a barrel during early Friday trading in Asia, holding Thursday’s 2.2% gain. The tanker attacks have provided only a relatively small boost to prices that have been hammered by a deepening trade war and swelling US stockpiles.

Before the video’s release, Kuwait’s envoy to the United Nations, Mansour Al-Otaibi, said it was too soon to assign blame.

“We are not going to blame anyone yet, the investigation is still going on,” Al-Otaibi told reporters before a UN Security Council meeting Thursday on the attacks. Another diplomat at the UN briefing, who asked not to be identified discussing a closed-door conversation, said the US didn’t present hard evidence of Iran’s culpability.

US Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told reporters after the Security Council meeting that “the US will continue its diplomatic and economic efforts to bring Iran to the negotiating table. And Iran should meet us with diplomacy, not with terror, attacks on ships, infrastructure and diplomatic facilities.’’

The tanker attacks occurred as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran meeting officials in what was seen as an effort to help ease tensions between the US and Iran.

Read: Oil prices surge after suspected tanker torpedo attack near Iran

The episode came a day after Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a missile at a Saudi airport, wounding 26 people.

The missile crashed into the arrivals hall, damaging ceilings and windows and causing a fire, though the airport was able to keep functioning with only two flights canceled. The Houthis last month hit oil infrastructure hundreds of kilometers inside Saudi Arabia, forcing it to temporarily close a pipeline.

Senior Trump administration officials said earlier Thursday that the US was considering a number of responses, including the possibility of providing naval escorts to commercial ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz. An American military response hasn’t been ruled out, they said, saying all options are on the table.

The prospects of a conflict have heightened since the administration tightened its sanctions on Iranian oil exports in early May, following President Donald Trump’s decision a year ago to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord.

“The attacks put upward pressure on the probability of a US-Iran conflict in the Gulf (currently 30%),” the Eurasia Group said in a note before Pompeo spoke. “The incidents appear aimed at demonstrating the vulnerability of Gulf shipping while damaging confidence in the US ability to protect freedom of navigation.”

Urban’s statement as well as an earlier one from US Central Command said that while the US would defend itself and its interests, it had no wish for a new war in the Middle East.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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Another American smoke and mirror trick to start a war! Let’s see the video so that all the voters can see what actually happened! Coincidence that they have some type of video recording? Lets see it this is true…..

I knew the USA and Benjamin would cook a story to attack Iraq nothing new same old tricks to push the world to the brink

Nothing new, most grand wars start with maritime ‘problems’

It’s Iran, not Iraq.

That cargo was going to Japan and just so happens Japanese president was visiting Tehran!

How convenient and fortuitous for the US and its cronies who want to invade whilst it was them who pulled out of the JCPOA!

Typical warmongering USA. Along with Israel the most criminal nation on earth in terms of war crimes.

For the US’ sake, let’s just hope the said video is not found to be a Hollywood creation(?)

I hope they didn’t get Michael Bay to do the special effects, hahaha

The United States should do absolutely NOTHING. All the evidence, “Iran’s threat” and ” boat type”, points to Iran but yet everyone “knows” its the US. Let the rest of the world sort it out for a change. Meanwhile everyone can pay double for petrol. The media called Trump a war monger-er, yet he engaged in zero wars (only a once-off military airport attack in Syria). He was also the first president to meet a North Korean leader. Meanwhile Nobel peace prize winner, Obama engaged in no less than 8 wars.

Agree Beeshaas. Ons is op dieselfde golflengte. It is Fashion for the Facebook Faithfull to hate Trump. Lack of logic and facts do not deter these people.

The video shows an alleged Iranian boat, actually removing a purported limpet mine from the boat, not attacking it. Since when is someone removing a mine (an explosive device) from a target disparaged as being the perpetrator? IF, the US is so good at this, why aren’t they showing the videos of Iran or whoever is involved actually planting the mines? And why are the crew of the vessel reporting that the objects that caused the explosion were rather projectiles that ‘came’ flying into the hulls of the boat? Who is causing this mischief…and why would Iran attack Japanese vessels when it had a successful meeting with Shinzo Abe. That does not make sense. So who is to benefit from this chaos and mayhem? Hint: It is not Iran.

Whose to benefit? Iran off course. Trump enters war, Democrats win next election, Iran continues building nuclear bombs.

Iran is backing the Houthi rebels in Yemen, greatly contributing to regional instability. The limpet mine attacks are just the latest desperate attempt by Iran or a sponsored party to destabilise the region in order to extract advantage from its neighbours. If it doesn’t work, Iran will threaten with nuclear developments again. The US does not need Iranian oil.

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