Iran has categorically rejected “unfounded accusations” by the United States over the attack on two oil workers in the Gulf of Oman, after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed the incident on Tehran.
“Iran categorically rejects unfounded US accusations about oil tanker incidents on June 13 and condemns them in the strongest terms possible,” Iran’s mission to the United Nations said, according to local TV network Press TV.
Hours earlier, Pompeo had said that the incident “is an unacceptable escalation of tensions on the part of Iran” and has called for unity to the international community before the actions of Tehran.
Pompeo explained that the American analysis to reach this conclusion is based on the type of weapons used and the level of “sophistication” of the operation.
He has also responded to the statements of his Iranian counterpart, Mohamad Yavad Zarif, who has described what happened as “suspect”. “Suspect does not begin to describe what supposedly happened this morning,” he added.
In this sense, Pompeo has said that “maybe Zarif thinks that this is fun, but nobody else in the world believes it”. “Iran is responding because the regime wants our successful campaign of maximum pressure to be withdrawn,” he argued.
“No economic sanctions authorize Iran to attack innocent civilians, alter international oil markets and carry out nuclear blackmail,” said the US Secretary of State.
Pompeo has also stressed that he has ordered the US ambassador to the United Nations to raise “the Iranian attacks” during the meeting to be held this Thursday by the UN Security Council to address what happened.
Later, the United States Army has posted a video showing the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) removing an untapped mine on the side of the Japanese-owned oil tanker.
The spokesman of the Central Command of the US Navy, Bill Urban, has confirmed that a WGR vessel has been seen approaching the Japanese-owned tanker at around 16.10 (local time).
“The withdrawal of the untapped Kokuka Courageous mine was observed and recorded,” Urban said in a statement, according to the Reuters news agency.
Zarif himself has posted two messages on his Twitter account to reject the accusations against Tehran and has accused the United States of “jumping immediately to accuse Iran without evidence.”
“This only makes it very clear that ‘Team B’ is pushing for a ‘Plan B’… Sabotaging democracy, including (the meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan), Shinzo Abe (who is visiting Iran) and covering up the economic terrorism against Iran, “he said.
“I noticed exactly this scenario a few months ago not because I’m clairvoyant, but because I recognize where the ‘B team’ is coming from,” Zarif said.
The minister uses the term ‘Team B’ to refer to White House National Security Advisor, John Bolton; the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohamad bin Salmán; the Emirati crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed; and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.