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Iran's military recovered tanker mine, says US after releasing video

The US military on Thursday released a video it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) removing an unexploded mine from the side of one of the two oil tankers attacked earlier in the day. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Washington, , Colombia Jun 14, 2019, 09.06 AM (IST)

The US military today released a video that it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) removing an unexploded mine from the side of a Japanese-owned oil tanker, as Washington blamed Iran for attacks rattling global oil markets.

The US military's Central Command also released photographs showing the apparent mine, which attaches to the side of a ship magnetically, before it was removed later in the day.

Such imagery is often difficult to declassify and its release appeared to show US efforts to convince the international community of Iran's culpability in Thursday's attacks on the Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-owned Front Altair. Tehran has bluntly denied the allegation.

Both vessels suffered explosions, forcing crews to abandon ship and leave them adrift in waters between Gulf Arab states and Iran.

Navy Captain Bill Urban, a Central Command spokesman, said the IRGC vessel was observed at 4:10pm local time approaching the Japanese-owned tanker.

"(It) was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the Kokuka Courageous (video attached)," Urban said in a statement.

As a result of the crisis, crude oil prices spiked after the attacks near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial shipping artery for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf energy producers. 

In a statement, the Iranian mission to the United Nations said Tehran "categorically rejects the US unfounded claim with regard to 13 June oil tanker incidents and condemns it in the strongest possible terms."

It accused the United States and its regional allies, which include Iranian rival Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, of "warmongering."

Urban said the United States would defend its interests and warned that Thursday's attacks were a threat to international freedom of navigation and freedom of commerce.

"The United States has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East," Urban added. "However, we will defend our interests."

Story highlights

In a statement, the Iranian mission to the United Nations said Tehran "categorically rejects the US unfounded claim with regard to 13 June oil tanker incidents and condemns it in the strongest possible terms."