The operator of one of the ships struck in the Gulf of Oman yesterday said his vessel was attacked by a flying object, not a mine as the Trump administration alleges, according to the New York Times.
The American government on Thursday released a video that showed an Iranian boat removing a mine attached to the hull of the damaged Kokuka Courageous, which was heading to Singapore with a cargo of methanol.
Yutaka Katada, the president of Kokuka’s corporate owner, disputes that claim. “I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship,” the executive said on Friday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said American intelligence agencies had concluded that Tehran was behind the incident. Trump mirrored the secretary’s statements on Friday during a Fox & Friends interview.
“You saw the boat has Iran written all over it.They didn’t want the evidence left behind. They don’t know that we have things that we can detect in the dark that work very well. We have that. It was them that did it,” said the president.
Kokuka Sangyo’s ship was the second ship damaged that day in the Strait of Hormuz, through which close to 40 percent of seaborne trade passes, according to Bloomberg.
Some analysts, however, have raised doubts about the administration’s interpretation, since the events came one day after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Iran, where he pledged to do his utmost to ease tensions between the U.S. and Tehran.
“This would seem very clumsy timing from a country seeing the first tangible signs of any easing of the crippling sanctions imposed by the Americans. But it is absolutely understandable if you’re someone whose ultimate goal is to derail any easing of tensions between the two nations and to effect regime change in Tehran. Whoever is behind the attacks is no friend of Iran,” writes Bloomberg’s Julian Lee.