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7 Jun, 2019 01:13

Probe says 'state actor' likely behind attack on tankers off UAE, doesn't mention Iran – report

Probe says 'state actor' likely behind attack on tankers off UAE, doesn't mention Iran – report

After the US put the blame squarely on Iran for sabotaging four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, a preliminary probe concluded that a 'state actor' was likely behind the raid, but made no mention of Iran.

According to reports by Reuters and Bloomberg, preliminary findings from the investigation jointly conducted by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Norway, and presented at an informal UN briefing on Thursday, describe the attack as a complex effort that required significant resources.

Also on rt.com Iran lashes out at ‘warmonger’ Bolton over ‘ridiculous’ claims about UAE oil tanker attacks

The investigators argue that the attackers, who inflicted damage on the tankers but did not cause casualties or an oil spill, required a "high degree [of] sophistication," precise intelligence, and "expert navigation of fast boats" to pick the targets and get in and out undetected. All of this, they claim, are signs a 'state actor' was likely responsible.

This wording allows the countries behind the report, two of which are among the US' main allies and arms sales clients in the Middle East, to maintain a neutral image without actually contradicting Washington, which accused Iran out of hand.

US President Donald Trump's national security advisor, John Bolton, said last month that the attacks were "almost certainly" perpetrated by Iran, accusing it of planting "naval mines" under the ships. It's unclear if Bolton's assertion was based on any intelligence.

The attack took place off the coast of the UAE emirate of Fujairah, which lies outside the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway that separates the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The strait is immensely important for oil transportation. Tankers carrying crude from the oil-rich Gulf countries must pass through it.

Previously, Iran threatened to block oil shipments through the waterway in response to the US' intention to bring Tehran's oil exports to 'zero'. 

The US recently declared Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, then sent an aircraft carrier group to the Gulf, while signaling a possible massive boost to the number of American troops in the region.

The May 12 attack came at the height of the latest round of tensions and targeted four commercial tankers, including two Saudi, one Emirati, and one Norwegian ship. Iran has dismissed the accusations against it, calling Bolton's statement "ridiculous."

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