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US, Britain Blame Iran for Oil Tanker Attacks

US, Britain Blame Iran for Oil Tanker Attacks

Friday, 14 June, 2019 - 11:45
US President Donald Trump. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The United States and Britain held on Friday Iran responsible for the attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

US President Donald Trump rejected Tehran's denial it was behind mysterious explosions on the two oil tankers, saying the incident had Iran "written all over it."

As US-Iranian tensions soared, Trump dismissed previous threats by Tehran that in case of conflict it could block the Hormuz Strait -- a narrow seaway vital to the world's oil supplies.

"They're not going to be closing it," he said in an interview on Fox News television.

Speaking hours after the US military released grainy footage it said showed an Iranian patrol boat removing an "unexploded limpet mine" from one of the tankers, Trump was emphatic.

"Iran did do it," Trump told the "Fox and Friends" show. "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."

"You saw the boat at night, successfully trying to take the mine off -- and that was exposed," he added.

Iran rejects the US accusations.

Iran has repeatedly warned in the past that it could block the Hormuz Strait.

Trump played down the threat.

"It's not going to be closed, it's not going to be closed for long and they know it. They've been told in very strong terms," Trump told Fox News.

The oil tankers that came under attack were 10 nautical miles apart and headed to Asia when they were struck by explosions in the early daylight hours Thursday after passing through the Strait of Hormuz some 25 nautical miles off Iran's southern coast.

The Front Altair carrying naphtha, a refined petroleum product, and owned by the Oslo-listed company Frontline was hit by three explosions, according to Norwegian officials, and remained ablaze into Thursday.

Explosions also struck the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, which was loaded with methanol, but the fire on board was soon extinguished.

Later on Friday, Britain blamed Iran and its Revolutionary Guard Corps for the attacks, saying no other state or non-state actor could have been responsible.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt condemned the attacks, said they had violated international norms, and called on Iran to stop all forms of destabilizing activity.

"These latest attacks build on a pattern of destabilizing Iranian behavior and pose a serious danger to the region," he said in a statement.

He also revealed that he had contacted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo said there was strong evidence of Iran's culpability and warned Washington would defend its forces and allies in the region.

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