The US says a new video shows Iran trying to hide its involvement in an attack on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.
The video, released by the US military, apparently showed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the tankers that was targeted on Thursday.
Limpet mines are magnetic and attach to the hulls of a ship, disabling but not sinking them.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Iran of attacking the tankers, and has instructed the US ambassador to the UN to raise the issue before the security council.
Iran has denied involvement and said in a statement to the UN: “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 Persian Gulf region and the most significant threat to its peace and security.”
The tankers – Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous – were hit in the Gulf of Oman, 25 miles from the Iranian coast.
The Front Altair was loaded with the flammable hydrocarbon mixture naphtha from the United Arab Emirates, and the Kokuka Courageous was carrying methanol from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Kokuka Courageous, which is shown in the video, was attacked twice in three hours, the president of Japanese owner Kokuka Sangyo said.
The attacks saw crude oil prices rise more than 4%, as the Strait of Hormuz is a crucial shipping route for the Gulf’s other energy-rich countries.
Later, prices settled around 2% higher.
Central command spokesman Captain Bill Urban said: “The US 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.”
The US already blames Iran or its proxies for a 12 May attack on four tankers off the United Arab Emirates’ coast as well as drone strikes on two Saudi oil-pumping stations two days later.
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