Oil tanker attacks: US suspects Iran involvement
GULF OF OMAN — The U.S. government reckons Iran is responsible for two suspected oil tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman this week, the BBC reports.
On Thursday, two oil tankers were sailing through international waters south east of the Strait of Hormuz when a fire broke out onboard.
This was followed by an explosion.
The Front Altair was carrying 75,000 tons of naptha and was heading from the United Arab Emirates to Taiwan, BBC News reports.
The second oil tanker, the Kokuka Courageous, was believed to be carrying around 25,000 tons of methanol.
The ship was travelling from Saudi Arabia to Singapore.
Citing Iran's state news agency Irna, the BBC reports that the first incident occurred on the Front Altair when it was 46 kilometers off the Iranian port of Jask.
The second took place an hour later, when the Kokuka Courageous caught fire around 51 kilometers off Jask.
The president of Kokuka Sangyo, the Japanese company that owns Kokuka Courageous, said he believes the ship was hit by a shell.
Managers of the vessel added that the ship was damaged "as a result of a suspected attack."
Taiwan's state oil refiner CPC Corporation suspects that the Front Altair was hit in a torpedo attack, according to the Guardian.
The CPC was chartering the tanker.
Citing the vessel's owners, CNN reports all crew members were evacuated safely onto another cargo ship.
According to Reuters, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that the U.S. believes Iran was behind the attacks.
"This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication," Pompeo said, according to Reuters.
Iran denies they were involved in what happened.
As reported by the BBC, a statement by the Iranian mission to the United Nations, said: "Iran categorically rejects the U.S. unfounded claim with regard to 13 June oil tanker incidents, and condemns it in the strongest possible terms."