Thursday, 22 August, 2019

Britain backs USA over 'unacceptable' Iran attacks on oil tankers

Two oil tankers damaged in Gulf 'attacks' | News Mike Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks in Gulf of Oman
Jean Garcia | 14 June, 2019, 11:43

"You should know that if we planned to produce nuclear weapons, America could not do anything", said Khamenei, who has final say on all matters of state in Iran's Shiite theocracy.

The Iranian foreign minister, Javed Zarif, denied any involvement, saying the country was "beyond suspicion".

Abe is widely thought to have had the blessing of Donald Trump in offering to open a channel of communications between the United States and Iranian leaders.

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

Trump said he appreciated the visit by Abe to Iran but that he believed it is "too soon to even think about" the United States making a deal with Tehran.

In May, the USA rushed an aircraft carrier strike group and other military assets to the Persian Gulf region in response to what it said were threats from Iran.

Previously, the US Navy said it spotted Iranian vessels near the targeted tankers and published a video that it claims shows Iranian sailors removing an unexploded limpet mine from the hull of one of the vessels.

The US accusations were made without "a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence", Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Twitter on Friday.

One the tankers damaged on Thursday is Japanese-owned - according Hiroshige Seko, Japan's minister of economy, trade and industry.

The two vessels were struck by explosions in the early daylight hours Thursday after leaving the Strait of Hormuz and traveling around 25 nautical miles off Iran's southern coast headed toward Asia. An explosion ripped a hole and scorched the tanker's side.

Trump to meet with Putin at G-20
The summit is scheduled for June 28-29. "They (relations) are deteriorating, getting worse and worse", Putin told the Mir TV channel.

He suggested that those flying objects could have been bullets, and called reports of striking a mine "false".

At 8:09am a U.S. aircraft saw an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Hendijan class patrol boat and "multiple IRGC fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft" approach in the vicinity of the Altair, Centcom said. But, the class of vessel, what the USA military has called a fast inshore attack craft (FIAC), was the same type of ship used by Iran to harass American warships in the Persian Gulf in recent years.

"The motor vessel Hyundai Dubai complied with the request and transferred the crew of the M/T Altair to the Iranian FIACs", it said. "And Iran should meet us with diplomacy, not with terror, attacks on ships, infrastructure and diplomatic facilities".

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

The Japanese company that owns the "Kokuka Courageous" tanker has said its crew spotted "flying objects" before the attack in the Gulf of Oman, contradicting U.S. claims that the vessel was damaged by a naval mine. A separate investigation by Norway, the UAE and Saudi, led to claim that a state like actor had to have been involved due to the sophistication of the operation. As the day progressed, he hit back at the USA accusations, saying Washington is trying to set up a false-flag attack in order to "sabotage diplomacy" and cover up their own "economic terrorism" against Tehran.

The Gulf of Oman lies at the other end of the strategic Strait of Hormuz from the Gulf, part of a vital chokepoint through which at least 15 million barrels of crude oil and hundreds of millions of dollars of non-oil imports pass.

Brent crude futures were up 23 cents, or 0.4%, at $61.54 a barrel by 0638 GMT, having settled up 2.2% on Thursday.

"We are in a risky moment in the region with this emerging pattern of attacks", said Elizabeth Dickinson, senior analyst with International Crisis Group.

"Any miscalculation or misunderstanding risks a spiral toward more direct confrontation".

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