Iran’s Foreign Minister has accused the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia of sabotaging diplomacy, after an attack on two tankers in a vital Gulf of Oman waterway Thursday. The attacks occurred near the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s busiest sea lane for oil shipments.
Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet Friday the fact that “the US immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran — [without] a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence” proves that the so-called B-team seeks to “sabotage diplomacy” and “cover up its economic terrorism against Iran.”
The B-team is comprised of U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday blamed Iran for the attacks, while the U.S. military released footage of what it said shows Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the ships – suggesting Iranian troops were trying to cover-up evidence of their involvement in the attack.
The vessels sustained significant damage, and their crews had to be evacuated. The crew aboard the Norwegian-owned Front Altair was reportedly picked up by a nearby ship and later brought to a port in southern Iran. The crew aboard the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous was rescued by the U.S.S. Bainbridge.
Each of the tankers was loaded with petroleum products, and the Front Altair burned for hours afterward, sending thick, black smoke into the sky.
Pompeo said there was strong evidence of Iran’s culpability “based on the intelligence, the weapons used, the level expertise needed to execute the operation.” He added that only Iran had the ability to undertake such an operation.
A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed Pompeo’s accusations as “alarming” and instead asserted that Iran is “in charge of maintaining security of the Strait.” Iran has repeatedly threatened to sabotage U.S. interests in the region by blocking the Strait of Hormuz.
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