PortandTerminal.com, June 14, 2019
Was the ship mined? Was it attacked by missiles? Did it sink as the Iranian media reported early yesterday? Conflicting accounts swirl in the media about what actually happened in the Gulf Oman ship attacks yesterday
Yesterday Reuters (and PortandTerminal.com) reported that Iranian State media (IRNA) was claiming that one of the two ships attacked had sunk. It turns out that the ship stubbornly did not sink. Not even close.
How Iranian state media could get this fact so completely wrong given the fact that they were in the area picking up the sailors who had abandoned ship is still a very big question mark.
Today the media is reporting conflicting accounts of how one of the ships was actually attacked.
What do the ship’s owners say?
The Japanese owner of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, said Friday that sailors on board saw “flying objects” just before it was hit, suggesting the vessel wasn’t damaged by mines.
CBS News reported that the Japanese company’s president Yutaka Katada said Friday he believes the flying objects seen by the sailors could have been bullets. He denied any possibility of mines or torpedoes because the damage was above the ship’s waterline. He called reports of a mine attack “false.”
The operators of the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair offered no immediate explanation of what happened to their vessel.
What does the United States Military say?
The Japanese ship owner’s account contradicts what the U.S. military said as it released a video Friday it said shows Iranian forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the two ships that were hit.
Does the US navy often release military footage within hours on YouTube?Reaction to U.S. Navy footage on YouTube
The black-and-white video, as well as still photographs the U.S. military released, appeared to show the limpet mine on the Kokuka Courageous.
What does the White House say?
Mike Pompeo, American Secretary of State refused to take any questions yesterday but he was certainly making allegations. Pompeo said the US believed blasts on the two tankers were caused by the Iranian military “based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation”.
He also said that Iran had been responsible for previous attacks on tankers last month off of Fujairah. An official investigation into those incidents did however not determine who had been responsible. Pompeo also claimed a 31 May car bomb in Afghanistan that killed civilians and wounded four US soldiers, had been carried out by Iran. Responsibility for the attack had been claimed by the Taliban.
What do we know for sure?
What we do know is that two tanker ships, the Japanese owned Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-owned Front Altair, appear to have been attacked yesterday in the Gulf of Oman. Crews of both vessels were forced to abandon ship and there were no serious injuries.
We also know that neither of the two ships sank.
We know that as the attacks took place yesterday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran yesterday meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The talks were an attempt to ease tensions between the Islamic republic and the US. Was it all just a clever act of subterfuge by the Iranians? Maybe.
And finally, we know that certain voices in the United States government are eager to get into a shooting war with Iran.
John Bolton, United States National Security Advisor has been vocal and eager to attack Iran for some time. He and Mike Pompeo will be quick to use this latest incident as evidence to go to war. How trustworthy is John Bolton? It depends on who you ask.
“When serving under George W. Bush, Mr Bolton embellished intelligence on Cuban and Syrian weapons”The Economist, May 16, 2019
For now, that’s all we really know for sure.
Germany’s Bild newspaper chips in
Not to be left out of the swirl of fake news, Germany’s tabloid “Bild” published a piece today claiming that one of the ships attacked was German (it isn’t) and that it was attacked with grenades (it wasn’t).
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