TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Germany’s foreign minister said that a video released by the US is insufficient evidence to prove Iran was behind attacks this week on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
“The video is not enough. We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Oslo, according to Reuters.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday blamed Iran for the attacks on the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, citing intelligence, the weapons used, expertise required and similar recent attacks.
The US military released a video later on Thursday that it allegedly shows Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps removing a mine from one of the targeted oil tankers after evacuation.
The captain of the Kokuka disputed the US assertion on Friday.
“Our crew said that the ship was attacked by a flying object,” said Yutaka Katada, president of ship operator Kokuka Sangyo.
Katada, citing accounts from the ship’s crew, said, “I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship,” according to The New York Times.
Iran has denied any role in the event, and some observers have raised questions about whether the intelligence was being used as a pretext for the US to escalate conflict with the country and bring back Tehran to the negotiating table.
The government in the UK, however, released a statement claiming that it is “almost certain” that Iran’s military carried out the attack.
A second US ally, France, was less committal. While the French Foreign Ministry condemned the attack, it did not say whether its government had assessed the US intelligence or any other evidence.
Meanwhile, European Union officials called for “maximum restraint.”
Nathalie Tocci, a senior adviser to the European foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said, “Before we blame someone, we need credible evidence.” Iranians are deeply rational actors, she said. And for Iran to have attacked a Japanese ship when the Japanese prime minister was in Tehran is not an especially rational thing to do.”
Maja Kocijancic, EU spokeswoman for foreign affairs, said “the region doesn’t need further escalation, it doesn’t need further destabilization, it doesn’t need further tension.”
She said that European foreign ministers would discuss Iran and other issues at a regular meeting on Monday.
On Friday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rebuffed Pompeo’s allegations, saying they were part of the “sabotage diplomacy” pushed by the “B-Team”.
“That the US immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran—w/o a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence—only makes it abundantly clear that the #B_Team is moving to a #PlanB: Sabotage diplomacy—including by @AbeShinzo—and cover up its #EconomicTerrorism against Iran,” he tweeted.
The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Thursday and discussed the attacks at the request of the United States.
Washington’s assessment, however, was not shared by other council members, who noted that there was no clear evidence linking Tehran to the attacks, diplomats said.
The Iranian mission to the UN, meanwhile, rejected the “unfounded” US accusations.
“Neither fabrications and disinformation campaigns nor shamelessly blaming others can change the realities. The US and its regional allies must stop warmongering and put an end to mischievous plots as well as false flag operations in the region.”