The Japanese government considers the US allegations about Iran’s involvement in the attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman unconvincing and has asked Washington to provide additional evidence to corroborate the claims, Kyodo news agency reported, citing several government sources.
"The government does not share the US view of Iran’s involvement in attacking tankers near the Strait of Hormuz and, as it turned out, appealed to the American side for additional evidence. The opinion is that the US statements are not sufficiently convincing", the agency wrote.
The reported statements follow the release of a video by the US Central Command claiming to show Iranian sailors removing an unexploded mine from the hull of one of the tankers as “proof” of Tehran being the culprit.
Just in: Pentagon video of what it says is an Iranian boat removing an unexploded mine from one of the attacked oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. pic.twitter.com/XSxIPcyV6Q— Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) 14 июня 2019 г.
Commenting on the footage, Yutaka Katada, the president of the Japanese company operating the Kokuka Courageous tanker, has brushed off the US claims, saying that the ship’s crew spotted a flying object ahead of the explosion.
"I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship. A mine doesn’t damage a ship above sea level. We aren’t sure exactly what hit, but it was something flying towards the ship", Katada was cited as saying by the Japanese media.
Iran has vehemently denied its involvement in the incident and urged the United States to stop the “blame game” and false flag operations in the region. US President Donald Trump has, nonetheless, reiterated the accusations by bringing up CENTCOM’s video:
"Iran did do it and you know they did it because you saw the boat. You saw the boat at night, successfully trying to take the mine off and that was exposed. I guess one of the mines didn't explode and it's probably got essentially Iran written all over it", Trump told Fox News on Friday.
The US version of events was strongly supported by the United Kingdom, with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt accusing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of being behind the attacks.
On 13 June, two oil tankers, the Panama-registered Kokuka Courageous, operated by Japan’s Kokuka Sangyo Co, and Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair, owned by Norway's Frontline, were hit by blasts in the Gulf of Oman, near the Strait of Hormuz. Shortly after the explosions occurred, the Japanese Trade Ministry said in a statement that both ships were carrying “Japan-related cargo”.