Iran rejects US allegations on tanker attacks
America has blamed it for the attacks on two tankers; a Navy expert says limpet mines used bore 'a striking resemblance' to similar mines displayed by Iran
Tehran: Iran's defence minister "categorically rejected" accusations Wednesday that Tehran was behind two tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman, describing evidence presented by Washington as "unsubstantiated", official news agency IRNA reported.
Washington blamed Iran for last week's attacks, releasing images and a grainy video that it claims shows Iranians on a patrol boat removing an unexploded limpet mine attached to one of the tankers.
Iran rejects accusations
"Accusations levelled against Iran's armed forces and the published film with regards to the incident (that) happened to the vessels ... are unsubstantiated and we categorically reject these accusations," IRNA quoted Defence Minister Brigadier-General Amir Hatami as saying.
"The armed forces and the port organisation were among the first to approach the tankers after the incident for relief operations and they rescued 23 people in the first tanker," he added. Hatami said that Iranian forces then headed to the second tanker, but the crew said another vessel had already rescued them.
"This means Americans had arrived sooner to the scene where they claim the video was recorded", Hatami said, with apparent reference to the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous. According to a US navy spokesman, the 21 sailors from Kokuka Courageous abandoned ship after "discovering a probable unexploded limpet mine on their hull following an initial explosion", before they were picked up by a Dutch tugboat.
'Mines similar to Iran's'
The limpet mines used bore "a striking resemblance" to similar mines displayed by Iran, a US Navy explosives expert said Wednesday, stopping short of directly blaming Tehran for the assault. The comments by Cmdr Sean Kido came as the Navy showed reporters pieces of debris and a magnet they say Iran's Revolutionary Guard left behind when they spirited away an unexploded limpet mine after the June 13 attack.
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