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DM Rejects Accusations of Iran's Involvement in Tankers Attack in Sea of Oman.

Summary: TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami dismissed allegations about his country's involvement in attacks on two oil tankers in the Sea of Oman as an unfair accusation.

"The accusation against Iran is totally a lie and I dismiss it firmly," General Hatami told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

"The recent accusation is an unfair accusation against the Iranian Armed Forces who have played a significant role in the establishment of security in the region and international waterways and we view this accusation as to be in line with attempts to tarnish Iran's face," he added.

General Hatami described Iran as a mighty and responsible country which is committed to rules and regulations, and said if the country does any such move, it surely claims the responsibility.

He also referred to allegations against Iran on involvement in attacks against the oil tankers in Fujairah last month, and said, "The UAE officials first rejected the Fujairah incident and then did a managed and biased release of information, which is a suspicious behavior because they wanted to use these cases for political ends."

General Hatami said that the US and the West which always emphasized on the necessity for the establishment of security in international waterways have now changed their strategy because these waterways are also used by their economic rivals, including Japan, China and the Europeans.

The incidents which happened in the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and Fujairah port are similar to Washington's proxy wars in Iraq and Syria to make waterways insecure to their own benefit, he added.

Asked about the footage released by the US claiming that the Iranian forces were detaching a limpet mine from one of the damaged oil tankers, he said, "The date as well as the place shown in the footage may not be recognized and authenticated."

"When our vessels arrived there, they carried out relief and rescue operations; they (the Americans) can show the footage in any way, but they cannot be used as documents and evidence at all," General Hatami said.

Iran had also earlier strongly denied any involvement in the attacks.

Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning," said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. As the day progressed, he hit back at the US accusations, saying Washington is trying to set up a false-flag attack in order to "sabotage diplomacy" and cover up their own "economic terrorism" against Tehran.

Also, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said his country was strong enough to act in broad daylight if it intended to stop the flow of oil exports from the Persian Gulf, rejecting accusations about Iran's involvement in the recent sabotage attacks on 2 oil tankers in the Sea of Oman.

"The US and its allies are projecting the blame on Iran for the recent incidents in the Persian Gulf (the attacks against the oil tankers in Fujairah and Sea of Oman) to raise allegations against Iran while if the Islamic Republic of Iran intends to stop exports of oil from the Persian Gulf, it will do that in full, and will announce it publically and clearly given the country and its Armed Forces' power and will not embark on deceitful and stealth acts like the terrorist and cheater US and its regional and international extensions which foment insecurity in the world," General Baqeri said on Monday.

He added that the Iranian Armed Forces were at present monitoring the enemies' moves wisely, precisely and round the clock and would give a crushing and open response to any enemy move and in a very broad region.

General Baqeri said Iran was now facing a new Saddam named Trump who resorted to complicated and dangerous methods, schemes and economic and psychological warfare against Tehran in a bid to pressure Tehran and make it believe that it had the only two options of war or negotiations that would lead to Iran's surrendering.

"Therefore, the Islamic Republic has opted for resistance and revolutionary and active defense and will stand for it strongly," he underscored.

Meantime, the Japanese company that owns the 'Kokuka Courageous' tanker has said its crew spotted "flying objects" before the attack in the Gulf of Oman, contradicting US claims that the vessel was damaged by a naval mine.

Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo, told reporters on Friday that sailors on board the ill-fated oil tanker observed "flying objects" just before the incident in which the ship caught fire and was badly damaged. The giant vessel was hit twice, first near the engine room and then on its starboard side.

He suggested that those flying objects could have been bullets, and called reports of striking a mine "false." Both points at which the ship was damaged were above her waterline, which couldn't be so if it had struck an underwater mine.

The tanker was carrying petroleum products to Singapore and Thailand when it was attacked while sailing through the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. All 21 crew members abandoned the ship and were reportedly rescued by an Iranian vessel. While many details of the incident are still shrouded in mystery, the US was quick to blame Iran.

Later that day, the US military released a blurry video showing what they claimed were Iranian sailors removing an "unexploded limpet mine" from the 'Kokuka Courageous.' The poor quality of the video made it especially challenging to independently verify the claims.

Katada's account partly contradicted American allegations of a mine attack, but did mention that the crew had spotted an Iranian Navy ship nearby. However, the president failed to specify whether it was there before or after the attack.

Another tanker, the Norwegian-owned 'Front Altair,' also suffered some damage while passing through the Gulf of Oman at around the same time. There have been reports of a torpedo attack on the vessel, but it is not yet clear from the firm's statement whether it was attacked.

It is unknown who would benefit from targeting the ships, but the timing of the incidents is especially sensitive. The attack on the tankers that were carrying "Japan-related" cargo notably came during a rare visit to Tehran by Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo.

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Publication:FARS News Agency
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jun 19, 2019
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