The US military on Friday released a video that it said shows Iran’s Revolutionary Guards removing an unexploded mine from one of the oil tankers targeted in the Gulf of Oman.
“It is the assessment of the United States that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.
Appearing on Fox News television later on Friday, President Donald Trump claimed Iran’s responsibility for the attacks had been “exposed” by the United States. He described the Islamic Republic as “a nation of terror”.
They’re not going to be closing it. It’s not going to be closed, it’s not going to be closed for long and they know it. They’ve been told in very strong terms,” Trump told Fox News.
He added: “Iran did do it. You know they did it because you saw the boat. I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it … You saw the boat at night, successfully trying to take the mine off – and that was exposed.”
Tehran has however denied involvement, accusing the US of waging an “Iranophobic campaign”.
António Guterres, the UN secretary general, has called for an independent investigation.
“It’s very important to know the truth and it’s very important that responsibilities are clarified. Obviously that can only be done if there is an independent entity that verifies those facts,” Guterres told reporters.
On Friday night the UK formally agreed with the US in attributing the attacks to Iran. After carrying out its own assessment — the product of an internal UK intelligence discussion — the Foreign Office issued a statement.
“It is almost certain that a branch of the Iranian military — the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — attacked the two tankers on 13 June. No other state or non-state actor could plausibly have been responsible,” read the statement.
It continued: “There is recent precedent for attacks by Iran against oil tankers. The Emirati-led investigation of the 12 May attack on four oil tankers near the port of Fujairah (UAE) concluded that it was conducted by a sophisticated state actor. We are confident that Iran bears responsibility for that attack.”
The foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt condemned the attacks and has also called for a diplomatic solution.
“These latest attacks build on a pattern of destabilising Iranian behaviour and pose a serious danger to the region. It is essential that tankers and crews are able to pass through international waters safely. We call on Iran urgently to cease all forms of destabilising activity. The UK remains in close coordination with international partners to find diplomatic solutions to de-escalate tensions,” said Hunt.