Trump points finger at Iran in attacks on oil tankers in Gulf

Erika Holt
June 15, 2019

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC that "our starting point is to believe" the USA view that Iran is to blame for the oil tanker attacks.

"We are concerned by tensions in the Gulf of Oman", it said, calling on all parties to show restraint.

Stay here for The National's rolling coverage of the latest developments following the attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman including regional and worldwide reaction.

On the other hand, the Iranian mission to United Nations categorically rejected that "the U.S. unfounded claim" regarding Gulf of Oman tanker attacks.

The 800-foot oil tanker Front Altair was laden with 75,000 tonnes of naptha, a flammable liquid hydrocarbon, when it was struck with an unidentified explosive device at around noon on Thursday Taiwan time.

Senior Trump administration officials have said the considering a number of responses to the attacks, including the possibility of providing naval escorts to commercial ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz.

The United States has concluded that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for alleged attacks Thursday on one Norwegian and one Japanese tanker, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced at a press briefing.

But Iran's United Nations mission said it had nothing to do with the events.

"They've changed a lot since I've been president, I can tell you". But this has done little to assuage concerns that the two arch foes could stumble into a conflict.

The attack resulted in about a 4% increase in oil prices.

"Obviously, accusing Iran for such a suspicious and unfortunate incident is the simplest and the most convenient way for [U.S. Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo and other U.S. officials".

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The US military said black-and-white footage it filmed from a US aircraft showed Iran's Guards on a patrol boat drawing up to the Kokuka Courageous and removing an unexploded limpet mine from its hull. Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions have cut off opportunities for Iran to trade its excess uranium and heavy water overseas, putting Tehran on course to violate terms of the nuclear deal regardless.

The latest attack on the two tankers happened as Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting with Iranian leaders in an effort to lower tensions in the area. In addition, it has said Tehran was behind May 14 drone strikes on two Saudi oil-pumping stations.

Tehran denies the accusations.

The incident follows attacks on four oil tankers in the United Arab Emirates' port of Fujairah in May. "We aren't sure exactly what hit, but it was something flying towards the ship", Katada said.

A source has said a magnetic mine could have caused the explosion on Front Altair, which had a cargo of naphtha.

CENTCOM said the crew from Front Altair was rescued by a cargo ship but then transferred to Iranian FIACs.

The crew were later taken on board the Bainbridge after being rescued by a Dutch tug.

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

He called the attacks "deeply worrying" and said Britain would make its own assessment of the incident in the coming days.

In 2018, the United States pulled out of the landmark nuclear deal reached in 2015 that was aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear activities.

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