Tensions are continuing to increase between the US and Iran as the US Department of Defense produces more images alleging to show Iran’s involvement in the explosions on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week.
Published on South Front, June 18, 2019
On June 17th, the US Department of Defense released more photographs and a timeline on the alleged Iranian attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman that took place on June 13th.
Most of the new photographs were taken from a Navy MH-60R Seahawk and show a scene similar to the grainy black and white video that US Central Command released on June 13th. Back then it further had images showing the alleged mine damage caused to the tanker M/V Kokuka Courageous.
The photographs show a supposed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy fast attack craft come alongside the Japanese-owned petrochemical tanker M/V Kokuka Courageous and allegedly removed what CENTCOM said is a limpet mine.
“Limpet mines are attached to a vessel via magnets and/or nails and detonated by a timer,” read a statement from U.S. Central Command. “Following the attack, sailors from the Kokuka Couragous discovered a second, unexploded, limpet mine on their vessel and abandoned ship.”
After the crew left the ship, CENTCOM said a Gashti Class patrol boat approached the Kokuka Courageous and recovered the unexploded mine.
Additional images shot from alongside Kokuka Courageous taken from the crew of USS Bainbridge (DDG-96), show a greenish-grey base attached to the hull, what CENTCOM says is the remains of the removed mine.
“Iran is responsible for the attack based on video evidence and the resources and proficiency needed to quickly remove the unexploded limpet mine,” CENTCOM said.
USNI News cited Washington D.C.-based naval analyst Scott Truver, who reviewed the photographs and said that they were a “smoking gun” proving that Iran was behind the attack.
“I have no doubt and I’ve talked to some of [explosive, ordnance and disposal] friends and we’re all in agreement – it’s a smoking gun,” he said.
The US version is the following:
In addition, the full statement with the photographs and their descriptions was also published:
Department of State spokeswoman Megan Ortagus said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had made a large number of calls on June 16th and 17th to international leaders, trying to convince them that keeping the Strait of Hormuz safe and open is a problem they all must deal with.
“The Secretary had a number of calls with the NATO secretary-general, with a Chinese politburo member, with a Singaporean foreign minister, a Kuwaiti foreign minister, UK foreign minister, Emirati foreign minister, Republic of Korea foreign minister, Qatari foreign minister. We obviously don’t have readouts from every single call that he has, but we have worked incredibly hard with our allies on this assessment as it relates to Iran’s actions last week in the Gulf of Oman.”
Separately, a day earlier Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused Iran of orchestrating the attacks and called for the international community to take a harsher stance against the Islamic Republic.
“But we won’t hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests,” MBS said.
Iran’s response was a statement by Abbas Mousavi, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman who blamed the Kingdom for its “wrong policies.”
“Salman’s charges against Iran in various situations is a continuation of Riyadh’s misguided approach and attempts at escaping the problems brought on by their own wrong policies,” Mousavi said.
“Saudi Arabia has poured out the wealth of its people and countries in the region with a lack of proper understanding of the region’s variables with a militaristic, crisis-based approach,” he added.
Mousavi said the kingdom lacked a “proper understanding of the region’s dynamics” and followed “an approach based on militarism and causing crises and tension”.
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