Trump blames Iran for oil tanker blasts

June 15, 2019

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WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Friday rejected Tehran’s denial it was behind mysterious explosions on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, claiming the incident had Iran “written all over it”.

As US-Iranian tensions soared, Trump dismissed previous threats by Tehran that in case of conflict it could block the Hormuz Strait — a narrow seaway vital to the world’s oil supplies.

“They’re not going to be closing it,” he said in an interview on Fox News television.

Speaking hours after the US military released grainy footage it said showed an Iranian patrol boat removing an “unexploded limpet mine” from one of the tankers, Trump was emphatic.

“Iran did do it,” he told the “Fox and Friends” show. “You know they did it because you saw the boat. I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it.”

“You saw the boat at night, successfully trying to take the mine off — and that was exposed,” he added.

Iran rejected the US accusations. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that the US had “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence.”

He accused Washington of seeking to “sabotage diplomacy” as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Iran. One of the targeted vessels is owned by a Japanese company while the other was Norwegian-operated. Iran has repeatedly warned in the past that it could block the Hormuz Strait in a relatively low-tech, high-impact countermeasure to any attack by the US.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2019