Monday 15 July 2019

Iran 'a nation of terror' for oil attacks, says Trump

US President Donald Trump (Chris Jackson/PA)
US President Donald Trump (Chris Jackson/PA)

Raf Sanchez

Donald Trump called Iran "a nation of terror" yesterday after accusing the country of being behind attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

The US military released a grainy video it said proved Tehran was behind Thursday's attack and allegedly showed Iranian forces trying to remove an unexploded mine from the side of one vessel.

"They didn't want the evidence left behind," said Mr Trump, who gave no indication the US planned to retaliate. "They are a nation of terror and they've changed a lot since I became president." Iran has denied responsibility.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the UK had no reason not to believe the US assessment, but warned that Iran and Washington were in danger of stumbling into an unwanted war.

"At the moment, both sides in this dispute think the other side doesn't want war. The risk you have is that then they do something provocative that leads to catastrophic consequences that weren't intended," he said.

However, the Japanese owner of the Kokuka Courageous - one of the vessels attacked - contradicted the US claims and said he believed the ship was attacked by "a flying object" rather than a mine or a torpedo.

Yukaka Katada, president of the operating company, did not say whether he believed Iran was responsible.

The attacks came just a month after four other oil tankers were sabotaged in the same area.

Speaking on Fox News, Mr Trump was repeatedly asked how the US was going to respond and replied merely: "We'll see." He repeated his hope that Iran would agree to return to the negotiating table to thrash out a tougher version of the 2015 deal limiting its nuclear ambitions. "I'm ready when they are," he said.

Iran has repeatedly said it will not negotiate until the US lifts crippling sanctions that have devastated its economy ever since the US abandoned the landmark nuclear deal in May 2018.

"We will not negotiate with the United States," said Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader. "No free nation would ever accept negotiations under pressure."

All 23 crew members of Norway's Front Altair tanker were rescued by Revolutionary Guard forces and taken to the southern Iranian port of Jask.

Iranian state media released video footage of the mainly Russian crew, saying they were being treated well.

The US Navy meanwhile rescued 21 crew members from the Kokuka Courageous and later took them back to the ship so they could help tow it to port.

The video released by the US military appeared to show a small Iranian patrol boat pulling alongside it and removing an unexploded limpet mine several hours after the attack. The US said the Iranians were trying to dispose of evidence of their involvement. "It's not a great video, and you can't see much detail... but it looks like what the US says it is," said Richard Meade, the editor of Lloyd's List, a shipping intelligence agency. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News