TEL AVIV – A former Iranian diplomat claimed that Israel with responsible for Thursday’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, an Iranian media outlet reported.
Without offering any evidence, Hamid Reza Asefi, who served as Iran’s ambassador to France and Foreign Ministry spokesman, claimed the motive behind the attack was “clear.”
“I think the directing of such incidents in the region are done by the Zionist regime and this has no hidden dimensions,” Asefi told Iran Online in an interview cited by the Tehran Times.
Israel benefits the most from accusations against Iran, Asefi theorized, and therefore “logically the Zionist regime is the agent of this incident.”
He added that Israel seeks to drag the Islamic Republic into turmoil with the rest of the world.
Iran denies any involvement in the twin attacks. The country’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, implied Israeli involvement when on Friday he accused the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia of engaging in a plot to “sabotage diplomacy.”
Meanwhile Israeli intelligence has joined the U.S. in blaming Iran for the incidents.
Over the weekend, an Israeli TV report cited senior intelligence officials as saying that the Iranians used mines and a torpedo in the attack.
Limpet mines were spotted on one of the ships, leading the U.S. to conclude that Iran was behind the attack. The U.S. military released footage apparently showing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing one of the unexploded mines. A U.S. official also told CNN that Iranian forces in the Gulf of Oman spotted a U.S. drone hours before the attack and fired a surface-to-air missile at it.
President Donald Trump on Friday called Iran “a nation of terror.” He said the attack had “Iran written all over it” and the Islamic Republic “did do it.”
“You know they did it because you saw the boat,” Trump said. “I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it.”
“You saw the boat at night, successfully trying to take the mine off — and that was exposed,” he said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the “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.”
The UK also said it had concluded that Iran was responsible for the attacks.
“Our own assessment leads us to conclude that responsibility for the attacks almost certainly lies with Iran. These latest attacks build on a pattern of destabilizing Iranian behavior and pose a serious danger to the region,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Friday.
In response, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the British ambassador for a dressing down.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday night also accused Iran of carrying out the attacks.
“We won’t hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests,” he said in an interview with Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat.
Iran’s mission to the UN issued a statement saying: “The US economic war and terrorism against the Iranian people as well as its massive military presence in the region have been and continue to be the main sources of insecurity and instability in the wider Persian Gulf region and the most significant threat to its peace and security.”