World Cannot Afford Major Confrontation In The Gulf, Says UN Chief

Darnell Taylor
June 14, 2019

Iran categorically rejects USA accusations over Thursday's attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, Reuters reported on Friday citing Iran's mission to the United Nations.

The official said the order to abandon ship was given after the tanker's captain spotted the unexploded mine, not because of the fire aboard the ship.

Image copyright Frederick A Terry/Artjom Lofitski Image caption The 21 crew on the Kokuka Courageous (L) and 23 on the Front Altair have been rescued Why are US-Iran tensions so high? The Norwegian-owned Front Altair, loaded with naphtha from the United Arab Emirates, radioed for help as it caught fire.

When asked if the United States had shown any evidence to support its accusation that Iran was responsible, Al-Otaibi told reporters: "We didn't discuss any evidence". The crew of the Norwegian vessel were picked up by a vessel in the area and passed to an Iranian rescue boat.

Pompeo outlined a series of events he said were carried out by Iran or by its surrogates, including a drone attack on oil pipelines, a rocket that landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, a vehicle bomb in Afghanistan and a missile strike on Saudi Arabia's Abha airport.

It was also based on recent incidents in the region that the US also blames on Iran, including a similar attack on tankers in May and the bombing of an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia by Iranian-backed fighters, he said.

When asked if the United States had shown any evidence to support its accusation that Iran was responsible, Al-Otaibi told reporters: "We didn't discuss any evidence". Meanwhile, Iranian-allied rebels in Yemen have increased their missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, which has been at war in Yemen against the rebels since 2015.

About an hour after the Kokuka Courageous' distress call, a USA aircraft observed an IRGC Hendijan-class patrol boat and multiple IRGC fast attack craft and fast inshore attack craft near the Altair, Capt Urban said.

There were no immediate statements apportioning blame after Thursday's incidents. He dismissed the U.S. claims as "baseless".

These showed that it was "highly likely" that four Limpet mines, which are magnetically attached to a ship's hull, were used in the attacks, placed by trained divers who were deployed from fast boats.

That accord began to unravel after the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the Obama-era deal and re-imposed USA sanctions aimed at crippling the Iranian economy and pressuring a change in its regional policies.

Russia and Turkey broker ceasefire in Syria's Idlib - Russian report
Turkey has contacted Russian Federation , which signed a deal last September to jointly monitor the ceasefire in Idlib. The move would also see Turkey locked out of receiving the next generation of F-35 stealth fighter jets from the US.

Tensions have escalated in the Mideast as Iran appears poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, an accord that the Trump administration pulled out of a year ago.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE, both majority Sunni Muslim nations with a long-running rivalry with predominantly Shi'ite Iran, have previously said attacks on oil assets in the Gulf pose a risk to global oil supplies and regional security.

Already, Iran says it quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium.

Iran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to find new terms for Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. "Some experts point out that the conflict might be triggered accidentally", he said.

A statement published by Khamenei's website after Abe's meeting with Khamenei suggested a tense exchange between the two.

"We do not doubt your sincerity and goodwill".

"Tension across the Middle East is high - and the attacks on two tankers have further exacerbated the situation, even though there does not appear to have been any damage to the cargos", John Hall, chairman of British-based consultancy Alfa Energy, said.

"I would like to give you a message from the President of the United States", Abe told Khamenei at the start of their meeting, according to Khamenei's office.

What do we know about the explosions?

Associated Press writers Aya Batrawy in Dubai, David Rising in Berlin, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed.

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