US reportedly eyeing Iran after attack on two tankers near the Strait of Hormuz

The Trump administration was quick to blame Iran Thursday after a pair of Japanese-owned tankers were attacked Thursday near the Strait of Hormuz — a charge the Islamic Republic quickly denied.

A US defense official, without citing evidence, told CBS News that it was “highly likely Iran caused these attacks” on Thursday.

The official told the network he had seen reports that crew members of one of the tankers believed they were hit by a torpedo or a mine, but that he couldn’t confirm those reports.

The two tankers, the Marshal Islands-flagged Front Altair and the Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous, were on their way to Taiwan and Singapore from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, respectively, the source said.

The Front Altair was on fire in waters between Gulf Arab states and Iran after an explosion that a source blamed on a magnetic mine.

The crew of the Norwegian vessel were picked up by a vessel in the area and passed to an Iranian rescue boat.

The second Japanese-owned tanker was abandoned after being hit by a suspected torpedo, the firm that chartered the ship said. The crew were also picked up.

Iran’s foreign minister called the timing of the attacks suspicious considering that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — who has a warm relationship with Iran — was meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei in Tehran.

“Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei for extensive and friendly talks, suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted, according to the country’s state news agency.

The attacks were the second in a month near the Strait of Hormuz, a major strategic waterway for world oil supplies.

The US and Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for last month’s attacks using limpet mines on four tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, a charge Tehran also denied.

The attacks come amid heightened tension between Washington and Tehran, with President Trump imposing tough sanctions on the regime and warning that the US would respond to any regional provocations.

With Post wires

Source: Read Full Article