عربي | كوردى



US says Iran took mine off tanker; Iran denies involvement

US says Iran took mine off tanker; Iran denies involvement

2019/06/14 | 10:35

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)- The US military on Friday released a video it said shows Iran’s

Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil

tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting Iran sought to remove

evidence of its involvement from the scene. Iran denies being involved,

accusing the US instead of waging an “Iranophobic campaign” against it.The US Navy rushed to assist the stricken vessels in the

Gulf of Oman, off the coast of Iran, including one that was set ablaze Thursday

by an explosion.The ships’ operators offered no immediate explanation on who

or what caused the damage against the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair and the

Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous. Each was loaded with petroleum products, and

the Front Altair burned for hours, sending up a column of thick, black smoke.While Iran has denied being involved in the attack, Tehran

previously used mines against oil tankers in 1987 and 1988 in the “Tanker War,”

when the US Navy escorted ships through the region.The black-and-white footage, as well as still photographs

released by the US military’s Central Command on Friday, appeared to show the

limpet mine on the Kokuka Courageous.A Revolutionary Guard patrol boat pulled alongside the ship

and removed the mine, Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said.“The US and the international community stand ready to

defend our interests, including the freedom of navigation,” Urban said. “The

United States has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East.

However, we will defend our interests.”Iran earlier denied involvement via a statement from its

mission to the United Nations.“The US economic war and terrorism against the Iranian

people as well as its massive military presence in the region have been and

continue to be the main sources of insecurity and instability in the wider Arabian

Gulf region and the most significant threat to its peace and security,” the

statement said.Meanwhile in Tokyo, the owner of the Kokuka Courageous said

its sailors saw “flying objects” before the attack, suggesting it wasn’t

damaged by mines. Company president Yutaka Katada offered no evidence for his

claim, which contradicts the US military account.Katada also said crew members saw an Iranian naval ship

nearby, but did not specify whether this was before or after the attacks.The suspected attacks occurred at dawn Thursday about 40

kilometers (25 miles) off the southern coast of Iran. The Front Altair, loaded

with the flammable hydrocarbon mixture naphtha from the United Arab Emirates,

radioed for help as it caught fire. A short time later, the Kokuka Courageous,

loaded with methanol from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, also called for help.The US Navy sent a destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, to assist,

said Cmdr. Joshua Frey, a 5th Fleet spokesman. He described the ships as being

hit in a “reported attack,” without elaborating.Thursday’s attack resembled that of an attack in May

targeting four oil tankers off the nearby Emirati port of Fujairah. US

officials similarly accused Iran of targeting the ships with limpet mines,

which are magnetic and attach to the hulls of a ship. The mines disable, but

don’t sink, a vessel.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists on

Thursday that the US assessment of Iran’s involvement was based in part on

intelligence, as well as the expertise needed for the operation. It was also

based on recent incidents in the region, which the US also blamed on Iran,

including the use of limpet mines in the Fujairah attack, he said. He also tied

Iran to a drone attack by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on a crucial

Saudi oil pipeline around the same time.“Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear

threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of

navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran,” Pompeo

said. He didn’t elaborate and took no questions.Iran denied being involved in the attacks last month and its

foreign minister questioned the timing of Thursday’s incidents, given that

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali

Khamenei in Tehran.Pompeo noted that Abe had asked Iran to enter into talks

with Washington but Tehran “rejected” the overture.“The supreme leader’s government then insulted Japan by

attacking a Japanese-owned oil tanker just outside Iranian waters, threatening

the lives of the entire crew, creating a maritime emergency,” Pompeo added.At the United Nations, the Security Council held closed

consultations on the tanker incidents late Thursday at the request of the

United States but took no action.Tensions have escalated in the Mideast as Iran appears

poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, an accord that

President Donald Trump repudiated last year. In the deal, Tehran agreed to

limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of crippling

sanctions. Now, Iran is threatening to resume enriching uranium closer to

weapons-grade levels if European nations don’t offer it new terms to the deal

by July 7.Already, Iran says it quadrupled its production of

low-enriched uranium. Meanwhile, US sanctions have cut off opportunities for

Iran to trade its excess uranium and heavy water abroad, putting Tehran on

course to violate terms of the nuclear deal regardless.Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia said early Friday its military

intercepted five drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeting the

kingdom, including the Abha regional airport. The kingdom said a similar attack

Wednesday on the Abha airport wounded 26 people.











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