The U.S. Navy released video purportedly showing an Iranian vessel removing an unexploded mine that was attached to a Japanese-owned oil tanker which suffered serious damage after an explosion in the Gulf of Oman early Thursday.
The imagery came from the USS Bainbridge, a guided-missile destroyer which rescued 21 sailors from the stricken tanker.
At least one other mine attached to tanker’s hull detonated, causing the blast. It happened near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a key route for oil shipments in the region.
A U.S. official said an Iranian gunboat approached the Kokuka Courageous later in the day and removed the unexploded triangular-shaped limpet mine, the same type of mine used to damage four other tankers in the Gulf of Oman last month.
The official said the suspected Iranian vessel did not bear any flags and the crew members weren’t wearing any uniforms. But, the class of vessel, what the U.S. military has called a fast inshore attack craft (FIAC), was the same type of ship used by Iran to harass American warships in the Persian Gulf in recent years.
The order to abandon ship was given after the tanker’s captain spotted the unexploded mine, not because of the fire aboard the ship.
Another tanker, a Norwegian-owned vessel called the Front Altair, also was attacked in the Gulf of Oman Thursday. Its crew was being held in Iran, according to U.S. officials.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran is behind the attacks on both oil tankers.
Iran’s U.N. Mission responded saying its government “categorically rejects” the U.S. claim that it was responsible for the attacks and condemned it “in the strongest possible terms.”
In an interview with “Fox & Friends” Friday, President Trump said of Iran’s alleged involvement: “We don’t take it lightly”.
“Iran did do it and you know they did it because you saw the boat,” he said, before pointing to video that showed an Iranian vessel removing an unexploded mine attached to a Japanese-owned oil tanker, the Kokuka Courageous.
Trump said the limpet mine had “Iran written all over it.”
“They’re a nation of terror and they’ve changed a lot since I’ve been president, I can tell you.”
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