A US military expert claimed on Wednesday that explosives allegedly used to attack a Japanese-owned oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz bore a "striking resemblance" to limpet mines publicly displayed by Iran.
The US made the presentation as the administration of Donald Trump has come under criticism from both domestic rivals and longstanding international American allies for its handling of Iran policy. Some experts say the attacks on two ships last week as well as recent rocket attacks targeting US installations in Iraq appear designed to roil Washington, and up the costs of its hardline Iran policy.
US Navy Cmdr. Sean Kido, described as an explosives expert, spoke to journalists in Fujairah, one of the seven monarchies that make up the United Arab Emirates, which has been a leading cheerleader of Washington's "maximum pressure campaign" against Iran. Both ships attacked last week are moored off the UAE coast.
Commander Kido showed reporters pieces of debris and a magnet that he claimed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard left behind when it allegedly removed an unexploded mine after the 13 June attack in the Gulf of Oman. Iran has not acknowledged taking any mine, and a video shown by the US military claiming Iranian officials were removing a mine appears inconclusive.
“The limpet mine that was used does bear a striking resemblance to that which has been publicly displayed in Iranian military parades,” Commander Kido said, according to the Associated Press. “There are distinguishing features.”
But he declined to describe what those distinguishing features were
“The damage we observed is consistent with a limpet mine attack,” he reportedly said..
Iran has denied being involved in the attack last Thursday that hit the Japanese tanker Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-owned Front Altair last week.
Former US intelligence and security officials have criticised Washington’s handling of the attacks, which have created tensions between Iran hawks and Democrats different factions on Capitol Hill.
But independent analysts and scholars say Iran was likely behind it.
“Iran is a strong culprit, anything is else just conspiracy theory,” said one former US intelligence officer. “But nobody trusts Bolton, Trump, or Pompeo. Lots of bluster and no substance.”
Commander Kido said unspecified authorities also recovered a fingerprints from one of the ships, which can be used in a criminal prosecution.
It remained unclear why the US military is investigating an attack on two foreign-owned vessels carrying non-US goods between non-US destinations.
The monarchical rulers of both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the nations from which the vessels departed, are close to the White House.In recent days, rockets have landed on or near the facilities of US military officials in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and a compound housing international oil officials in Basra. Iranian hardliners have vowed for months to use various tools at their disposal to exact a price for tightening US sanctions on Iran that followed Washington torpedoing of the painstakingly crafted 2015 nuclear deal.
The Trump administration has come under criticism by lawmakers and international officials for pushing a confrontation with Iran based on leaks and whispers of wrongdoing by Tehran, with scant evidence or public debate.
Iran maybe seeking administration's Iran policy has become so toxic and politicised that it creates an opening for Iran to stage attacks that give Washington hawks just enough reason to accuse Iran, while allowing just enough doubt for critics to accuse them of warmongering.
“Does the IRGC Quds force have the ability to do what it needs to do?" said the former intelligence official, who served in the Middle East. "It does,”
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