Published: Fri, June 14, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

United States military releases video evidence of Iran role in tanker attack

United States military releases video evidence of Iran role in tanker attack

About 25 miles off the coast of Iran, the Front Altair oil tanker is disabled and on fire.

Previously, the US Navy said it spotted Iranian vessels near the targeted tankers and published a video that it claims shows Iranian sailors removing an unexploded limpet mine from the hull of one of the vessels. Tehran denied involvement, accusing the United States of waging an "Iranophobic campaign".

Despite the escalation in tensions, Pompeo signaled that the U.S. will continue to limit its policy to economic pressure, which leaves few options for additional measures.

In afternoon trading, Brent for August delivery stood at $61.99 Dollars per barrel, up $2.02 USD, or almost 3.4 per cent from Wednesday.

In the latest incident, the tankers were damaged near the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf near the Gulf of Oman.

The United States accused Iran of carrying out attacks that left two tankers ablaze in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, escalating tensions across the region and sending world oil prices soaring. Meanwhile, Iranian-allied rebels in Yemen have increased their missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, which has been at war in Yemen against the rebels since 2015.

A US assessment of Iran's responsibility, which forced the evacuation of the crews in global waters, was based in part on intelligence as well as the expertise needed to carry out the operation, Pompeo told reporters in Washington. He did not say how the ships were attacked or who was suspected of being behind the assault.

Frontline, the firm that operates the Front Altair, told The Associated Press that an explosion was the cause of the fire. Its crew of 23 is safe after being evacuated by the nearby Hyundai Dubai vessel, it said. "Our policy remains economic and diplomatic effort to bring Iran back to the negotiating table at the right time to encourage a comprehensive deal that addresses the broad range of threats - threats today apparent for all of the world to see".

Mohammad Javad Zarif in an early Friday morning tweet said the fact that "the U.S. immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran - [without] a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence - only makes it abundantly clear that the #B_Team is moving to a #PlanB: Sabotage diplomacy...and cover up its #EconomicTerrorism against Iran".

The timing of Thursday's reported attack was especially sensitive as Abe's high-stakes diplomacy mission was under way in Iran. Japan's Trade Ministry said the two vessels had "Japan-related cargo", without elaborating.

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Tensions have increased further since Trump acted at the beginning of May to force Iran's oil customers to slash their imports to zero or face draconian USA financial sanctions. The kingdom said a similar attack Wednesday on the Abha airport wounded 26 people.

There were no immediate statements apportioning blame after Thursday's incidents.

"We do not doubt your sincerity and goodwill".

Khamenei said a recent promise by Trump not to seek regime change in Iran was "a lie".

There are fears the attack on two oil tankers in the Middle East could lead to a major conflict between the United States and Iran.

"Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful maximum pressure campaign lifted", he said Thursday.

Tensions have escalated in the Mideast as Iran appears poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, an accord that the Trump administration repudiated previous year. Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions have cut off opportunities for Iran to trade its excess uranium and heavy water overseas, putting Tehran on course to violate terms of the nuclear deal regardless.

"Throughout the first half of this year, ongoing global trade tensions have escalated", OPEC said in the report.

Abe is widely thought to have had the blessing of Donald Trump in offering to open a channel of communications between the USA and Iranian leaders.

Already, Iran says it quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium. The deployment came a year after Washington exited a multinational accord that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.

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