Iran is very likely responsible for the attacks this week on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, the British government said Friday.
Using its own assessments, the government concluded that Tehran was “almost certainly” behind the attacks, said Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, which were reportedly carried out using explosive devices.
“I condemn yesterday’s attacks on two vessels in the Gulf of Oman,” Hunt said in a press statement. “These latest attacks build on a pattern of destabilizing Iranian behavior and pose a serious danger to the region.”
"In targeting civilian shipping, international norms have been violated. It is essential that tankers and crews are able to pass through international waters safely,” said Hunt, urging Iran to cease any provocative and destabilizing actions.
On Friday, dozens of crew members were rescued after the Japanese Kokuka Courageous and Norwegian Front Altair oil tankers burst into flames as they were passing through the Strait of Hormuz and entering the Gulf of Oman.
The Iranian mission to the UN rejected the U.S. claim that Iran was behind the attacks.
“Iran categorically rejects the U.S. unfounded claim” and “condemns it in the strongest possible terms” the Iranian government said in a statement.
U.S. President Donald Trump has blamed Iran for the attacks, citing a video taken from U.S. Central Command that purports to show footage of a patrol boat with personnel docked near one of the oil tankers.
But Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo shipping company, the owner of the Kokuka Courageous, said U.S. reports of the attacks provided false information as to what really happened.
“It seems that something flew towards them. That created the hole, is the report I’ve received,” said Katada, speaking to The Financial Times.
“It seems there was a high chance they were attacked by a flying object. The impact was well above the water. I don’t think it was a torpedo,” he added.
By Muhammad Mussa in London