Iran removed mine from tanker: US

 

Iran removed mine from tanker: US

Dubai - In the video, the boat from Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard pulls alongside one of the tankers.

By AP

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Published: Fri 14 Jun 2019, 9:53 PM

Last updated: Sat 15 Jun 2019, 12:01 AM

The US military released a video on Friday it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, suggesting Tehran wanted to hide evidence of its alleged involvement.
Iran denied any role in Thursday's apparent attacks, which have again roiled the Arabian Gulf amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over the unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.
The black-and-white US video of the Iranians alongside the Japanese-owned tanker Kokuka Courageous came after its crew abandoned ship after seeing the undetonated explosive on its hull, said Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the US military's Central Command. It separately shared photos of the vessel, which showed what appeared to be a conical limpet mine against its side.
In the video, the boat from Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard pulls alongside Kokuka Courageous at 4.10pm on Thursday. The Iranians reach up and grab along where the limpet mine could be seen in the photo. They then sail away.
While Iran maintains it has nothing to do with the recent attacks, its leaders repeatedly have threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 per cent of the world's oil flows.
Analysts say Iran, if involved, wouldn't want investigators to find an unexploded mine because they could check its serial numbers and other attributes to trace it.
"The US and the international community stand ready to defend our interests, including the freedom of navigation," Urban said in a statement.
"The United States has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. However, we will defend our interests."
In a statement from its UN mission, Iran accused the US of escalating tensions.
"The US economic war and terrorism against the Iranian people as well as its massive military presence in the region have been and continue to be the main sources of insecurity and instability in the wider Arabian Gulf region and the most significant threat to its peace and security," the statement said.
In Tokyo, the owner of the Kokuka Courageous said its sailors saw "flying objects" before the attack, suggesting it wasn't damaged by mines. Company president Yutaka Katada offered no evidence for his claim, which contradicted the US military account.
Katada also said crew members saw an Iranian naval ship nearby, but did not specify whether this was before or after the attacks.
The suspected attacks occurred at dawn on Thursday about 40 kilometres off the southern coast of Iran. The Front Altair, loaded with naphtha from the United Arab Emirates, radioed for help as its cargo of flammable chemicals caught fire. The Kokuka Courageous, carrying methanol from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, called for help a short time later.
The US navy sent the USS Bainbridge, which picked up 21 sailors from the Kokuka Courageous, and they stayed overnight on the destroyer, returning to their vessel on Friday to help in it being towed.



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