Pentagon: New Photos Offer More Proof Iran Attacked Oil Tankers Last Week

Saul Bowman
June 19, 2019

Crew members of the Norwegian-owned oil tanker that was attacked in the Gulf of Oman have landed in Dubai after two days in Iran.

Earlier Monday, Iran announced that it would break a limit on uranium stockpiles established by the 2015 nuclear agreement with the USA and five other world powers that was meant to restrict Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for an easing of global sanctions.

In a statement, Central Command reaffirmed the Trump administration's previous claim that Iran was responsible for the attacks on the Kokuka Courageous and the Front Altair "based on video evidence and the resources and proficiency needed to quickly remove the unexploded limpet mine".

The UK has said that its own independent investigation corroborates that Iran was involved in the attack. The US needs good intel on the Iranian regime not just to navigate its way through this conflict but also to keep track of what Iran plans for its proxies in the region.

While Trump was speaking to TIME, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced he had authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for "defensive purposes" in the region.

"The United States is considering a full range of options", Pompeo said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman over the past week have exacerbated the situation, with Washington blaming Iran for the incidents, an accusation Tehran has strongly denied. The strike is believed to have been the first employing, not the ballistic missiles long used by the Houthi rebels, but the Iranian-built Soumar cruise missile.

Iranian government officials have hinted that the USA could be behind a false-flag attack, reminiscent of the Gulf of Tonkin incident used to justify the American war on Vietnam.

He said China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia relied heavily on freedom of navigation through the strait.

Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom have backed up the USA claim, which Iran has strenuously denied.

Trump appeared to be toning down previous American comments and actions since the USA ordered additional naval and air forces to the region last month against the backdrop of soaring tensions with Iran, including a decision Monday to deploy 1,000 additional troops.

The new USA deployment to the Middle East is in addition to a 1,500-troop increase announced last month in response to tanker attacks in May.

The UAE's Sheikh Abdullah, whose country is bitterly opposed to Iranian influence in the region, called Saturday for a deescalation of tensions.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the multinational Iran nuclear deal past year and reimposed tough sanctions on the Islamic regime in Tehran.

Trump hasn't been shy in voicing his aversion to overseas military entanglements, but advisers such as Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton have staked out more hawkish positions.

"Before we blame someone, we need credible evidence", Nathalie Tocci, a senior adviser to European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, told The New York Times. But what has the president said?

"Those were limited military operations created to get Iran's attention and not clearly proactive in a sense of leading to an all-out war", he said.

When asked Monday whether he was considering military action against Iran, the president told TIME, "I wouldn't say that".

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