Friday, June 14, 2019

Iran Attacking Oil Tankers With Mines and Torpedos

IRAN has accused the US of lying about the "torpedo attack" on an American-linked oil tanker as tensions reach breaking point. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the "blatant" attacks on two tankers which burst into flames in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.

The Pentagon released images which it says shows Iranian involvement in the oil tanker attacks. But Iran has hit back at the "unfounded and reckless" claims and accused the US of “warmongering” as part of a “disinformation campaign”.

“The US and its regional allies must stop warmongering and put an end to mischievous plots and false flag operations in the region,” Iran's mission to the United Nations said. “Warning, once again, about all of the US coercion, intimidation and malign behaviour, Iran expresses concern over suspicious incidents for the oil tankers that occurred today.”

It came after Pompeo pointed the finger at Iran and the Pentagon released images and footage as "proof" of Iranian involvement. Pompeo said the attacks were part of a "campaign" of "escalating tension" by Iran which posed a threat to international peace and security. Iran blasted his “inflammatory remarks” and said they amounted to “another Iranophobic campaign”.

"Iran categorically rejects the U.S. unfounded claim with regard to 13 June oil tanker incidents and condemns it in the strongest possible terms," the Iranian mission said in a statement. The hardline Islamic nation added that the US poses the "most significant threat" to the peace and security of the Persian Gulf region.

"The US economic war and terrorism against the Iranian people as well as the massive military presence in the region have been and continue to be the main sources of insecurity and instability in the wider Persian Gulf region and the most significant threat to its peace and security," the statement said. Iran's foreign minister later dismissed the US accusations as "sabotage diplomacy".

Both the Front Altair and the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous burst into flames and were forced to evacuate in the troubled region on Thursday. Reports suggested the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous may have been targeted by a magnetic mine causing a series of massive explosions on board.

The Pentagon released a video that it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from the tanker. This suggests the Islamic Republic may have sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene.


The black-and-white footage, as well as still photographs released by the US military's Central Command, appeared to show the limpet mine on the Kokuka Courageous. But the owner has since said the tanker crew saw "flying objects" before the attack, suggesting the ship was not damaged by mines, according to AP.

Pompeo said the US will defend its forces and interests in the region but gave no specifics about any plans and he took no questions. Hours later it was revealed the US Navy is sending the guided missile destroyer USS Mason to the scene of the attacks. The USS Bainbridge rescued 21 of the 44 stricken sailors involved in the incident near the Strait of Hormuz.


Britain is working on the basis that Iran is responsible for the attacks and warned Iran that these actions were “deeply unwise”. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “This is deeply worrying and comes at a time of already huge tension.

"I have been in contact with Pompeo and, while we will be making our own assessment soberly and carefully, our starting point is obviously to believe our U.S. allies. “We are taking this extremely seriously and my message to Iran is that if they have been involved it is a deeply unwise escalation which poses a real danger to the prospects of peace and stability in the region."

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which is run by the British Navy, urged "extreme caution" and said it was investigating the incident. “We are deeply concerned by reports of explosions and fires on vessels in the Gulf of Oman. We are in contact with local authorities and partners in the region.” Authorities do not believe that any British nationals were on the two ships.

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are deeply concerned by reports of explosions and fires on vessels in the Gulf of Oman. We are in contact with local authorities and partners in the region.”
This comes after the US claimed Iran used explosives to blow huge holes in four ships - including two Saudi oil tankers - anchored in the Persian Gulf last month. The ships reportedly had ruptures measuring up to ten foot across  in their hulls as a result of the May 12 sabotage attacks.

Recent US and Iran tensions

May 5: USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force is deployed in Middle East in response to 'a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings' by Iran.

May 8: Iran vows to enrich its uranium stockpile if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for its nuclear deal. The US responds by imposing sanctions on Iran's metals industry.

May 10: The US says it will move a Patriot missile battery into the Middle East to counter threats from Iran.

May 24: President Trump says the US will bolster its military presence in the Middle East with an additional 1,500 troops.

June 12: The UAE says four commercial ships off its eastern coast "were subjected to sabotage operations," just hours after Iranian and Lebanese media outlets air false reports of explosions at a nearby Emirati port.

A Washington-based official told the Associated Press that an American military team's initial assessment indicated Iran or its allies used explosives to blow holes in the ships. A huge US naval presence has built up in the Gulf over recent weeks amid a fevered standoff between Washington and Tehran.

US intelligence revealed Iran was on the verge of carrying out offensive action to disrupt and attack American and partner interests in the region. It led to the deployment of US aircraft carriers, Patriot missiles and B52 bombers over recent days.

The general-secretary of the Gulf Cooperation Council described the sabotage as a "serious escalation" in an overnight statement. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman called the incidents near the coast of Fujairah on May 12 "worrisome and dreadful" and asked for an investigation into the matter.

US and Iran - a troubled history

Before the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iran was one of America's biggest allies in the Middle East and was led by the US-backed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. However, since the seismic revolt, Iran has been led by murderous Islamic fundamentalists and tensions with Washington have remained ever since.

On November 4, 1979, the Iranian regime took 52 US diplomats hostage in response to President Carter’s administration allowing Iran’s deposed former leader into America. The hostage crisis lasted for 444 days and also included a failed rescue mission which cost the lives of eight US soldiers. In April 1980, the US ended diplomatic relations with Iran – a break which lasted for more than 30 years.

In April 1983, Washington blamed the Iranian-funded terror group Hezbollah for carrying out a bombing attack on the American embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. The assault, carried out amid a brutal civil war in Lebanon, killed 17 Americans. In November of that year, two truck bombs in Beruit killed 241 US peace keepers. The US again blamed Hezbollah for the incident.

The Clinton White House, in 1995, placed a total embargo on Iran meaning US companies could not trade with the country. And in 2002, George W Bush included the Islamic Republic in his famous “Axis of evil” speech along with North Korea and Iraq.

What is the Iran nuclear deal?

The deal is an agreement between the Islamic Republic and a group of world powers aimed at scrapping the Middle Eastern country's nuclear weapons programme. It saw Iran agree to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium by 98 per cent.

According to the deal, Iran would receive relief from the US, the European Union and the United Nations Security Council on all nuclear-related economic sanctions. The agreement was reached on July 14, 2015, and was signed by world powers in Vienna, Austria.

However,  on May 8, 2018, President Trump announced the US would withdraw from the agreement - which he has repeatedly called "insane" and ridiculous". America's withdrawal from the deal mean crippling economic sanctions will once again be placed on Iran - further heightening tensions between the two countries.

Muslim Obama gave Iran billions of dollars and a nuclear weapon.

President Donald Trump blamed Iran on Friday for this week’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. “Iran did do it, and you know they did it because you saw the boat, I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it,” Trump said.

The president commented on the attacks during a phone interview on Fox and Friends on Friday morning. He said it was obvious Iran was covering up their role in attacking the tankers, by trying to secretly remove the unexploded mine.

“They’re a nation of terror,” Trump said. “They’ve changed a lot since I’ve been president, they were unstoppable and now they’re in deep, deep trouble.” Trump said Iran was flourishing in the Obama administration, actively involved in 14 different conflicts in the Middle East but they were “pulling back.”

“I’m not looking to hurt that country, but they can’t have a nuclear weapon, it’s very simple,” he said.