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US-Iran Dispute Escalates Over Oil Tanker Attack. Here's All You Need To Know

Written By Aishwaria Sonavane | Mumbai | Published:

Hack:

  • A day after the incident, Iran called the oil tanker attack 'suspicious', while the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later in the day accused Tehran for the attack
  • In retaliation Tehran censured the claim, calling it 'ridiculous' and 'dangerous'

The US-Iran conflict strained further after the US held Iran responsible for the two oil tankers that were blazed in the Gulf of Oman, basing the accusation on their initial piece of intelligence, to which Iran retaliated refuting the allegations. 

On June 13, two oil tankers were attacked in the Strait of Hormuz, the world's most significant oil artery, which consequently led to global fluster and soaring of oil prices. Out of the two tankers, one Norwegian owned Front Altair, and the second, Kokuka Courageous was owned by Japan. 

The timing of the incident concurred with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Tehran to meet with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seeking to alleviate the tensity surging between Tehran and Washington, which, however, turned out to be futile after Khamenei proclaimed that there was 'no way he would talk to America.'

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United States' version

A day after the incident, on June 14, Iran called the oil tanker attack 'suspicious', concurrently, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later on the same day, without providing shreds of any tangible evidence stated that the attack was a part of a "campaign" of "escalating tension" by Iran, further calling it a threat to international security and peace. 

He said, "It is the assessment of the United States that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks."

"This is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication," he added. 

Later in the day, a grainy video was released to back their allegation, which claimed that Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) approached the tanker and removed an unexploded mine from the side. 

Consolidating their stand, the US President explicitly claimed on an international news channel that 'Iran did do it.' 

Iran's version

In a stern retaliation to the imputation, Tehran censured the claim, calling it 'ridiculous' and 'dangerous'

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif fought back and said that the US is making accusations without a 'shred of factual or circumstantial evidence'

He said, "The US had immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence."

Moreover stated that this was an intent by Washington and its allies- Saudi Arabia and UAE to move to 'plan B'  to cripple diplomacy. 

Global version

Trump administration's fondest ally, Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman on June 16 taking a synchronous tone of the US, accused rival Iran of the attacks. The Crown prince further stated that although the Kingdom wants 'no war' it 'won't hesitate to deal with any threat' and called the global community to punish Iran 'using all means'

He further accused the Iranian establishment of disrespected the Japanese Prime Minister, who was in the region to defuse tensions. 

Similarly, UK echoing the stance of ally US said that the attacks 'almost certainly' lies with Iran, a statement which was strongly denounced by Tehran. Iran's Foreign Ministry on Saturday summoned the British ambassador to Tehran, Rob Macaire, over UK's "unacceptable stance" on the attack 

Meanwhile, the United Nations, Russia, and Qatar called for an international probe into the attack.

Russia came to Iran's support and warned against "hasty conclusions" over the incident. "I would use this opportunity to warn against hasty conclusions, from any attempts to impose responsibility on those who are seen as undesirable," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. 

Similar to the episode on Thursday, four other tankers were destroyed in the same region in May, for which the US blamed Iran. The attack led to the ascend of Brent crude oil prices over 3%.  

Trump's foreign policy to paralyze Iran's nuclear program has left the world inkling of a probable military confrontation between the two. Meanwhile, the critics of the Trump administration have maintained that the White House is trying to provoke Iran.

However, the attempt to choke Iran's oil trade has not brought a change in Iran's conduct as Khamenei categorically said that he does not see Trump 'worthy of any message exchange' and that he has no reply for him 'now or in future'

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US-Iran tensions

Tehran-Washington tensions flared after US President Donald Trump took office and pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018, fetching criticism from even the allies. 

The White House played out a 'maximum pressure' policy, tightened sanctions against Iran in a move to sabotage the country's oil exports to none, in an attempt to consequently tremble Iran's economy.

Recently, the US even labeled Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a 'terror outfit' and intensified their military presence in the Gulf citing a certain 'threat' from Iran. 

Holding no restraint to Washington, Tehran accused the US of executing 'psychological warfare' and 'economic terrorism' against Iran.  

US officials have specified that India and seven other countries who still import oil from Iran as a part of special exemptions will not be given an extension further, following which New Delhi will not be able to maintain its oil trade. 

Iran for a second row has become India's top oil supplier 
 

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