The US military has released a video that it claims shows Iran’s special forces removing an unexploded mine from one of the oil tankers damaged in an attack in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.
President Trump accused Iran of being behind the attacks.
“Iran did do it,” Trump said of the attack, in remarks yesterday morning to “Fox & Friends.”
Iran denied any role in the apparent attacks, which have heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over the unravelling nuclear deal with world powers.
Four other oil tankers off the nearby Emirati port city of Fujairah suffered similar attacks in recent weeks, and Iranian-allied rebels from Yemen have struck US ally Saudi Arabia with drones and missiles.
President Donald Trump withdrew America last year from the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran reached with world powers and recently imposed a series of sanctions, cutting deeply into its oil exports.
While Iran denies involvement with the recent attacks, its leaders repeatedly have threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 percent of the world’s oil flows.
Iran accused Washington of waging an “Iranophobic campaign” against it, while Trump countered that the country was “a nation of terror.”
According to the US military Central Command, 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, according to.
In the video, the boat from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard pulls alongside Kokuka Courageous at 4:10 pm on Thursday. The Iranians reach up and grab along where the limpet mine could be seen in the photo. They then sail away.
In a statement from its UN mission, Iran accused the U.S. 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 Persian Gulf region and the most significant threat to its peace and security,” the statement said.
Thursday’s attack resembled one in May that targeted four oil tankers off the nearby Emirati port of Fujairah. US officials similarly accused Iran of using limpet mines.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US assessment of Iran’s involvement was based in part on intelligence, as well as the expertise needed for the operation.