By staff and agency

EU unconvinced by U.S. claim Iran is behind tanker attack

June 17, 2019 - 19:34

The European Union foreign ministers have remained unconvinced by U.S. allegations that Iran was behind last week’s attack on two tankers.

There was strong support among EU countries for an independent UN investigation and calls for more evidence, Independent reported on Monday.

Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, said the EU states “continue to gather information”.

“We know the findings of the American and the British intelligence services, which assume that you can be almost certain. We are comparing this with our information. I think you have to proceed very, very carefully on this,” Maas said.

Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s foreign minister, said: “I believe that the main task of foreign ministers is to avoid war. We have to do that today.”

Pekka Haavisto, the Finnish foreign minister, said it was important that EU states have “the full evidence” before reaching any conclusion.

“I support very much the line of the UN Secretary General Mr. Guterres, that a proper investigation [to put] all the facts on the table and then we can look what really has happened, who is behind this,” he said.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero said, “We do think that there is room for finding a way for peace and stability in the world.”

On Thursday morning, two commercial oil tankers were hit in the Gulf of Oman, prompting the evacuation and rescue of dozens of crew members.

The United States has blamed Iran for the attacks.

Soon after the attacks, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared in the State Department Briefing Room to significantly raise the stakes.

“It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today,” Pompeo said.

He cited intelligence, weapons used, the required expertise and sophistication of the assault and previous attacks to conclude it was the latest assault by Iran on “freedom-loving nations.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi rejected on Friday Pompeo’s anti-Iran accusations, saying the suspicious nature of the attacks is not funny or ridiculous but alarming.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for ensuring the security of the Strait of Hormuz, and we showed this by rushing to save the sailors of the incident-hit vessels in the shortest time possible,” he said.

“Pinning the blame on Iran for the suspicious and regrettable incident for the oil tankers seems to be the easiest and most simplistic thing Mr. Pompeo and other U.S. statesmen could do,” he noted.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt issued a statement on Friday blaming Iran and the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps for the attacks. 

He claimed no other state or non-state actor could have been responsible. The UK official, however, did not present any evidence for his claim.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has summoned British Ambassador to Tehran Robert Macaire over the accusations

In a late Saturday meeting with the British ambassador, Assistant Foreign Minister for Europe Mahmoud Barimani conveyed Tehran’s strong protest to the British government’s “unfounded allegations” and “unacceptable” anti-Iran stances.

The Iranian official said the accusations have been levelled without any proof, saying such remarks by Hunt are in line with Washington’s position.

Hamid Reza Asefi, a former Iranian diplomat, has said the Zionist regime is to blame for the attacks.

In an interview with Iran Online, Asefi said Israel benefits the most from such accusations against Iran, hence “logically the Zionist regime is the agent of this incident.”

“I think the directing of such incidents in the region are done by the Zionist regime and this has no hidden dimensions,” he stated.

Asefi, who served as Iran’s ambassador to France and Foreign Ministry spokesman, argued that Israel intends to draw the Islamic Republic into a tense and anti-diplomatic atmosphere to justify its stance against Iran.


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