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Saudi Arabia blames Iran for oil tanker attacks, but doesn’t want ‘regional war’

Published: June 16, 2019
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Source: RT

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has accused Iran of masterminding the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman this week. One of the explosions rocked a Japanese-owned ship just as PM Abe held talks in Tehran.

The Iranian government “did not respect the presence of the Japanese Prime Minister as a guest, as Tehran instead attacked the two tankers, one of which was heading for Japan,” bin Salman told Saudi-owned paper Ashraq Al-Awsat on Sunday.

The Crown Prince further accused Tehran of “targeting the security and stability of the region,” but stressed that Riyadh does not want the current tensions to spiral into “a regional war.”

Two oil tankers, the Norwegian-owned ‘Front Altair’ and the Japanese-owned ‘Kokuka Courageous,’ suffered attacks in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quickly pinned the incidents on Tehran, citing intelligence reports. “It’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it,” Trump said on Friday.

Washington later released a blurry video allegedly showing the crew of an Iranian patrol boat removing a limpet mine from one of the ship’s hulls. The US did not provide any additional proof of Iran’s alleged culpability in the attacks. The head of the Japanese shipping company that owned the vessel, meanwhile, told reporters that the crew saw “a flying object” hitting the ship.

Iran has denied all accusations. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the US “immediately jumped” to blame his nation “without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence,” with the goal of sabotaging Iran’s relations with Japan. 

The ships were targeted just as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to Tehran, marking the first time that a Japanese leader has visited the nation since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Experts interviewed by RT raised serious doubts as to whether Iran would carry out such a brazen attack on foreign ships at a time of increasing tensions in the region. “Why would Iran do it? They have no reason to go to war and they have no reason to escalate the situation,” defense analyst and retired lieutenant general, Amjad Shoaib, noted.

Some US allies in Europe were also reluctant to follow Washington’s line of reasoning against Iran. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the video, which was shared by the US Navy, was “not enough” to “make a final assessment” of the incident.

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