Mine fragments, magnet point to Iran in tanker attack: US Navy

Limpet mine, not flying objects, damaged Japanese tanker

June 19, 2019

FUJAIRAH, United Arab Emirates — The United States Navy on Wednesday displayed limpet mine fragments and a magnet it said it had removed from one of two oil tankers attacked in the Gulf of Oman last week, saying the mines bore a striking resemblance to Iranian ones.

The United States, waging a "maximum pressure" sanctions campaign against Iran to curb its nuclear and regional activities, has been trying to build an international consensus that Iran was behind last week's blasts, as well as a May 12 strike on four oil tankers off the United Arab Emirates.

"The limpet mine that was used in the attack is distinguishable and also strikingly bearing a resemblance to Iranian mines that have already been publicly displayed in Iranian military parades," said Commander Sean Kido, commanding officer of an explosive ordinance dive and salvage task group in the Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT).

He was speaking to reporters at a NAVCENT facility near the UAE port of Fujairah.

Small fragments said to have been removed from the Kokuka Courageous were on display alongside a magnet purportedly left by the IRCG team allegedly captured on video.

The Japanese company that owns the Kokuka Courageous had said that its ship was damaged by two "flying objects", but NAVCENT dismissed this.

"The damage at the blast hole is consistent with a limpet mine attack, it is not consistent with an external flying object striking the ship," Kido said, adding that nail holes visible in the hull indicated how the mine was attached to the ship.

The location of the mine above the ship's waterline indicated the intention was not to sink the vessel, he said.

Kido also said NAVCENT had collected biometric information including fingerprints from the ship's hull that would help in building a criminal case.

He said the United States was working with regional partners on a "joint and combined investigation", but declined to name the countries taking part.

The UAE has said an inquiry into the May 12 attack pointed to a state actor. That inquiry said it was highly likely that limpet mines placed by trained divers were the cause.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that Washington would maintain its pressure campaign on Iran and continue to deter aggression in the region but does not want the confrontation with Tehran to escalate.

The United States said on Monday it would send around 1,000 more troops to the Middle East, in addition to a 1,500-troop increase announced last month that it said was prompted by Iranian threats.

In Paris, Germany's foreign minister said Wednesday that there remains a risk of war in the Gulf.

"The situation is, as before, serious. The risk of war in the Gulf has not been dispelled," Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said alongside his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris. — Agencies

June 19, 2019
5 hours ago

Top French court approves law requiring COVID-19 health pass to enter restaurants

5 hours ago

Iran's new hardline President Ebrahim Raisi sworn in

5 hours ago

Most-wanted mafia boss arrested in Madrid after two years on the run