US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks to the media at the State Department in Washington, DC on June 13, 2019. (AFP photo)
The administration of US President Donald Trump blames Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Sea of Oman as Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called the incident suspicious which occurred during a landmark visit by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Islamic Republic.
On Thursday morning, Iranian rescuers rushed to the assistance of two oil tankers hit by yet unspecified accidents in the Sea of Oman, transferring all of their 44 crew members to its southern shores.
None of the two involved tankers — one sailing under a Panama flag and another bearing the Marshall Islands’ ensign — sank during the incident, said the director general of Ports and Maritime Department in the southern Iranian province of Hormozgan, Allah-Morad Afifipour.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday accused Iran of carrying out the attacks without providing any evidence to back up his accusation.
“It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today,” Pompeo told reporters in a brief appearance at the State Department in Washington, DC.
“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication,” Pompeo said.
The Trump administration had also accused Iran of being behind a similar attack on May 12 on four oil tankers in the Persian Gulf while independent analysts blamed US and Israeli intelligence agencies for carrying out a false flag operation in order to ignite a conflict in the Middle East region.
Earlier on Thursday, hours after the attacks occurred, Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif, said, “Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.”
Highlighting the fact that attacked tankers were bound for Japan, Zarif noted, “Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei_ir for extensive and friendly talks.”
Iran’s foreign minister then stressed that promotion of a regional dialogue forum was necessary to deal with the recent attacks on commercial ships in the Persian Gulf, in what was a clear allusion to his previous call for the formation of a such a forum for the Persian Gulf littoral states in an attempt to restore peace and stability to the region.