Washington: The US military on Thursday released a video it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded mine from the side of one of the two oil tankers attacked near the Persian Gulf earlier in the day, as well as a photograph showing the apparent mine before its removal.
An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman.Credit:AP
"At 4.10 p.m. local time an IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous (video attached)," Navy Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for the US military's Central Command, said in a statement.
The release of the video followed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's assertion that the US held Iran responsible for attacks, casting it as the latest in a series of "provocative actions" that have sharply raised tensions in the region.
A US assessment of Iran's responsibility, which forced the evacuation of the crews in international waters, was based in part on intelligence as well as the expertise needed to carry out the operation, Pompeo told reporters in Washington.
It was also based on a recent series of incidents in the region that the US also blames on Iran, including a similar attack on tankers in the area in May and the bombing of an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia by Iranian-backed fighters, he said.
"Taken as a whole these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran," Pompeo said.
The US planned to raise the attacks at the UN Security Council later Thursday. Pompeo also said the US would defend its forces and interests in the Middle East but gave no details on any immediate plans.
Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, speaks during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC.Credit:Bloomberg
Pompeo did not take questions after giving the brief statement.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have been growing since President Donald Trump last year withdrew from an international agreement aimed at restricting Iran's nuclear program.
The US, under Trump, aslo re-instated economic sanctions that have had a devastating effect on the Iranian economy.
In May, the US rushed an aircraft carrier strike group and other military assets to the Persian Gulf region in response to what it said were threats from Iran.
Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday.Credit:AP
Pompeo on Thursday said Iran had attempted the covert deployment of small boats capable of launching missiles, in an apparent description of the threat that prompted the deployment.
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