The owner of a Japanese tanker attacked on Thursday said U.S. reports have provided “false” information about what happened in the Gulf of Oman.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused rival Iran of attacks on two oil tankers in a vital Gulf shipping channel, adding that he “won’t hesitate” to tackle any threats to the kingdom, according to excerpts of an interview published on Sunday.
“The Iranian regime did not respect the presence of the Japanese prime minister as a guest in Tehran and responded to his efforts by attacking two tankers, one of which was Japanese,” Prince Mohammed told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, referring to the attacks in the Gulf of Oman on 13 June.
“We do not want a war in the region… But we won’t hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests,” he added, as quoted by AFP.
Reuters reported that the crown prince also called on the international community to take a “decisive stand” towards the attacks on the tankers, which had sent crude prices soaring amid a tense standoff between Iran and the US.
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Also, in the newspaper interview, the crown prince described the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a “very painful crime.” He added that the kingdom seeks to achieve full justice and accountability, the Arab News reported on its website.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the government in Riyadh, was killed by Saudi agents inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul last October. His death led to unprecedented criticism of Riyadh in the US Congress.
Last December, every US senator voted in favour of a resolution stating that the Saudi crown prince was responsible for the crime, a conclusion that was also reached by the CIA.
Still, US President Donald Trump has continued to stand by his Saudi allies.
The crown prince told the newspaper that the kingdom’s strategic relations with the United States would not be affected by “media campaigns or some stances published by US entities”.
As for the Aramco IPO, the crown prince said it is expected to occur at some time between 2020 and the beginning of 2021, the Arab News said.
The Japanese-owned ship Kokuka Courageous was carrying highly flammable methanol through the Gulf of Oman when it was rocked by explosions, sparking a blaze that was quickly extinguished.
A tanker owned by Oslo-listed company Frontline was also targeted.
US blames Iran for attacks on tankers in Gulf of Oman
Could Tel Aviv be setting up its more powerful ally in a “wag the dog” scenario to initiate war against Israel’s archenemy Iran?
Iran’’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has issued a warning against what he has described as the B-Team.
The hawkish B-team is comprised of US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Zarif has slammed the hostile polices pursued by these politicians against Iran, saying they are targeting the Iranian nation with “economic terrorism.”
The Iranian foreign minister added that what the B-Team is doing is a delusional pursuit of regime-change, questioning whether US President Donald Trump would let them realize their dreams of another QUOTE Forever War.
Zarif said the “B-team is trying to push Iran to take action as a pretext for crazy and adventurous US actions.
On Sunday night US national security advisor John Bolton threatened Iran with “unrelenting force” while announcing the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf region, saying further it sends a “clear and unmistakable” message to the Iranian regime.
Bolton’s statement also cited a “number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran, which later on Monday morning CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr described based on unnamed US defense officials as including “specific and credible” Iranian threats against US assets in Syria, Iraq, and at sea.
US officials tell me the threats from Iran included “specific and credible” intelligence that Iranian forces and proxies were targeting US forces in Syria, Iraq and at sea. There were multiple threads of intelligence about multiple locations, the officials said.
It turns out, perhaps predictably, that the ultimate source of these claims is none other than Israeli intelligence.
Axios White House correspondent Barak Ravid reports:
Israel passed information on an alleged Iranian plot to attack U.S. interests in the Gulf to the U.S. before national security adviser John Bolton threatened Iran with “unrelenting force” last night, senior Israeli officials told me.
This also comes as some high level Israeli defense officials have claimed Iran ordered the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to initiate a conflict in Gaza in order to distract Israel from stopping supposed Iranian expansion inside Syria.
Thus it appears an entire US carrier strike group is now responding to what the White House believes is credible intelligence provided by the Israelis. Or, it could simply fit with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s long stated intent to convince Washington to take preemptive military action against Iran.
Axios reports the Israeli intelligence is “not very specific at this stage” but that the “intelligence gathered by Israel, primarily by the Mossad intelligence agency, is understood to be part of the reason for Bolton’s announcement.” The threats against US interests also reportedly include locations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
But the most obvious question must be asked: could Tel Aviv be setting up its more powerful ally in a “wag the dog” scenario to initiate war against Israel’s archenemy Iran?