‘Sophisticated and coordinated’ attack on 4 tankers seen mounted by ‘state actor’

by WorldTribune Staff, June 7, 2019

The attack last month on four oil tankers off the UAE coast was a “sophisticated and coordinated” operation carried out by a “state actor,” officials for Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Norway told the UN Security Council.

Screen grab shows damage to the hulls of the four vessels.

On May 12, two Saudi oil tankers and a Norwegian ship were damaged in what Saudi officials called an “act of sabotage.” The fourth vessel was an Emirati-flagged tanker. No injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East says Iran has backed off an apparent attack against U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region after the recent bolstering of American forces there, but he added that the threat remains “very real.”

Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said on June 6 that Teheran has chosen to “step back and recalculate” after making preparations for an apparent attack, but he added he is still concerned by Iran’s potential for aggression.

“I don’t actually believe the threat has diminished. I believe the threat is very real,” McKenzie said in Baghdad during an interview with reporters accompanying him on a visit to the region.

The comments by Saudi Arabia, UAE and Norway at the June 6 UN briefing did not mention Iran, but the Saudis, UAE and the United States have all accused Iran or its “agents” of carrying out the attack.

“We believe the responsibility for this attack lies on the shoulders of Iran,” Saudi Arabia’s UN ambassador, Abdallah al-Mouallimi, told reporters after the briefing.

On May 30, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that Iran attacked the oil tankers in an effort to push global crude prices higher.

“These were efforts by the Iranians to raise the price of crude oil throughout the world,” Pompeo told reporters.

On May 29, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said the attacks were the work of “naval mines almost certainly from Iran.”

Israel’s Kan 11 News reported this week that Israel has collected information identifying Iran as responsible for sabotaging the four vessels near the Strait of Hormuz last month.

Russian Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told reporters after the June 6 UN briefing that no evidence was presented linking Iran to the attacks.

“We shouldn’t jump to conclusions. This investigation will be continued,” he said.

Gen. McKenzie said he would not rule out requesting additional U.S. forces to bolster defenses to counter Iranian threats.

The general added that the United States has enough force in the region to “establish deterrence” without “needlessly” provoking Iran.

“We’re working very hard to walk that line. They probe for weakness all the times,” McKenzie said. “We’ve taken steps to show the Iranians that we mean business in our ability to defend ourselves.”

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