Just hours after remarks blaiming Iran for the recent incident in the Gulf of Oman by US State Secretary Mike Pompeo, Central Command issued a statement claiming that it has evidence confirming these accusations. The statement claimed that Iranian forces were spotted removing “a probable unexploded limpet mine” from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.
The video released by Central Command shows a boat coming up to the side of the tanker. An individual stands up on the bow of the boat and removes some object from the tanker’s hull. The US says that the object is likely an unexploded mine.
The full text of Central Command statement:
“U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time from the motor tanker (M/T) Altair and a second one at 7a.m. local time from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.
Both vessels were in international waters in the Gulf of Oman approximately 10 nautical miles apart at the time of the distress calls. USS Bainbridge was approximately 40 nautical miles away from the M/T Altair at the time of the attack, and immediately began closing the distance.
At 8:09 a.m. local time a U.S. aircraft observed an IRGC Hendijan class patrol boat and multiple IRGC fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft (FAC/FIAC) in the vicinity of the M/T Altair.
At 9:12 a.m. local time a U.S. aircraft observes the FAC/FIAC pull a raft from the M/T Altair from the water.
At 9:26 a.m. local time the Iranians requested that the motor vessel Hyundai Dubai, which had rescued the sailors from the M/T Altair, to turn the crew over to the Iranian FIACs. The motor vessel Hyundai Dubai complied with the request and transferred the crew of the M/T Altair to the Iranian FIACs.
At 11:05 a.m. local time USS Bainbridge approaches the Dutch tug Coastal Ace, which had rescued the crew of twenty-one sailors from the M/T Kokuka Courageous who had abandoned their ship after discovering a probable unexploded limpet mine on their hull following an initial explosion.
While the Hendijan patrol boat appeared to attempt to get to the tug Coastal Ace before USS Bainbridge, the mariners were rescued by USS Bainbridge at the request of the master of the M/T Kokuka Courageous. The rescued sailors are currently aboard USS Bainbridge.
At 4:10 p.m. local time an IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.
The U.S. and our partners in the region will take all necessary measures to defend ourselves and our interests. Today’s attacks are a clear threat to international freedom of navigation and freedom of commerce.
The U.S. and the international community, stand ready to defend our interests, including the freedom of navigation.
The United States has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. However, we will defend our interests.
– attributable to Capt. Bill Urban, Lead Spokesman for U.S. Central Command”
While the statement seems to be pretty anti-Iranian, in fact, the US appears to be have no evidence to confirm that the supposed “mine” was Iranian. Bloomberg:
Senior administration officials said that at least one of the ships was attacked by mines. In a briefing with reporters, they showed a photo of a tanker, the Courageous, with a hole in its side caused by a mine that exploded, they said, and an undetonated mine lodged inside.
The officials said they didn’t know for sure whether the mines were Iranian. The U.S. concluded that Iran was responsible for the attacks based on intelligence sources and the absence of any better explanation, the officials said. They declined to elaborate on the intelligence sources.
On June 14, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that Washington should stop playing a blame game through “suspicious” attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East, describing the US behavior as “worrying”.
“The suspicious nature of incidents for oil tankers is not a joke. It is not only not funny, but it is also worrying and alarming,” Mousavi said in a statement.
The US and its allies have just got a fresh formal pretext for further economic and maybe even military agression against Iran. Who may have been interested in this?
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