Japan unconvinced over Iran’s role in tankers incident: sources

June 17, 2019

TEHRAN – The Japanese government remains unconvinced over evidence provided by the United States to prove Iran was responsible for attacks earlier this week on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, government sources said on Sunday.

The Japanese government has been requesting Washington for concrete evidence to back its assertion that Iran is to blame for the attacks, Japan Today quoted the sources as saying.

The request came after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a statement hours after the attacks blaming Iran but without offering proof. 

But Japanese government officials remain unconvinced, the sources said. “The U.S. explanation has not helped us go beyond speculation,” said one senior government official.

Japan has been seeking more concrete evidence through various channels, including Foreign Minister Taro Kono who is likely to have made the request during a call with his counterpart on Friday, the sources said.

Pompeo said in a press conference on Thursday that the United States’ assessment was based on their “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.”

A source close to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “These are not definite proof that it’s Iran.”

“Even if it's the United States that makes the assertion, we cannot simply say we believe it,” he said.

If having expertise sophisticated enough to conduct the attack could be a reason to conclude that the attacker was Iran, “that would apply to the United States and Israel as well,” said a source at the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

The attacks occurred around the time Abe was meeting with Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran.

Tehran warned the U.S. to stop playing a blame game through “suspicious” attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East, describing the American behavior as “worrying”.

MH/PA

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