US – Iran relations have been anything but positive as of late.
Ever since the Trump administration took the helm and reignited pressure on the Islamist regime – walking back concessions the Obama administration had made to the regional power years prior – tensions between the two nations have been caustic as Iran suffers under US economic and geopolitical pressure and continues to develop its nuclear capacity.
But now things are heating up to the point of potential open conflict with the most recent alleged act of Iranian aggression in the waters in and around the Persian Gulf. The BBC reports,
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had blamed Iran for the “unprovoked attacks” on Thursday. He added that the US had made its assessment based on intelligence about the type of weapons used.
But Iran dismissed the claim as “unfounded.” A senior Iranian official had earlier told the BBC that “Iran has no connection” with the explosions. Dozens of crew members were rescued after the blasts on the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous and the Front Altair, owned by a Norwegian company.
“It is the assessment of the United States that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks,” the US secretary of state said at a news conference in Washington.
“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”
“This is only the latest in the series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests.”
“Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran,” Secretary Pompeo concluded.
The Evidence is Rapidly Stacking Up Against Iran
While Iran (obviously) was quick to emphatically reject US claims of their involvement, evidence is already beginning to stack up against the hardline regime, who has been accused by multiple nations of similar attacks before – particularly against the UAE this May – and has been saber rattling in the relevant waters for some time including threats of violence to choke international commerce.
The Norwegian and Japanese firms and officials involved have confirmed both ships suffered explosive attacks on the waterline of the vessels. The Japanese for their part claim eyewitness accounts from the crew describe some sort of projectiles were involved in causing the explosions, though no conclusive evidence has come from either involved party thus far.
Additionally, Reuters reported earlier today following the attacks that the UK agreed with the US assessment, though an official statement has not yet been made explaining,
“The British government agrees with the United States that Iran was behind the suspected attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a BBC reporter wrote on Twitter.
“We strongly agree with the US assessment,” the reporter tweeted, quoting a UK Foreign Office source.”
But far and away the most compelling evidence to support Mr. Pompeo’s claim is video footage released late Thursday night by the United States Central Command.
A military spokesman, Capt. Bill Urban, said the video showed an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boat pulling up alongside the Kokuka Courageous, the stricken Japanese ship, several hours after the initial explosion, and removing an unexploded limpet mine in broad daylight.
The US is claiming in the twilight hours this video footage implicates Iran, arguing the Republican Guard vessel was making a frantic last-minute effort to wipe potentially damning evidence against Iran from the vessel.
While the complete truth of the matter has yet to be determined as all involved parties begin to make their case, one thing is for certain; tensions between Iran and the United States and her allies are escalating towards conflict at a dangerously rapid pace.
Editor’s note: While it is common and courteous to give Iran the benefit of the doubt, the odds that is was some terrorist seperatist group are dwindling.
All intelligence assets are now focused on the area. If it happens again, there will be war.