A western intelligence report showing Qatar knew of Iranian plans to attack four ships off the coast of the UAE could have “devastating” legal implications for Doha, an international relations expert said.
GhanemNuseibeh, the founder of the London consultancy Cornerstone Global Associates, also told The National the intelligence report, which detailed how Qatar failed to warn its western allies of the May attack, showed Doha was “clearly not a trusted ally” of the West.
The United States blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday that drove up oil prices and raised concerns about a new U.S.-Iranian confrontation, but Tehran bluntly denied the allegation.
It was not immediately clear what befell the Norwegian-owned Front Altair or the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, which both experienced explosions, forcing crews to abandon ship and leave the vessels adrift in waters between Gulf Arab states and Iran.
Iran said that it was wrong of the U.S. to blame Tehran for the attacks. “These accusations are alarming,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, adding that blaming Iran for attacks was “convenient” for U.S. officials.
The blast on the Front Altair, which caught fire and sent a huge plume of smoke into the air, may have been caused by a magnetic mine.
The firm that chartered the Kokuka Courageous tanker said it was hit by a suspected torpedo, but a person with knowledge of the matter said torpedoes were not used.
U.S. Central Command spokesman Bill Urban released a video of what the U.S. military said was an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp Gashti Class patrol boat approaching the Kokuka Courageous at 4:10 P.M. local time “and was observed and recorded removing (an) unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.”
The U.S. military’s Central Command also released photographs showing the apparent mine, which attaches to the side of a ship magnetically, before it was removed later in the day.
The tanker attack will not affect Japanese energy supply, Japanese Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said, although the ministry issued a warning to Japanese energy companies.
Crude oil prices spiked more than 4% after the attacks near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial shipping artery for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf energy producers. Prices later settled about 2% higher. Brent crude was down by 0.4% at $61.06 a barrel in early Asia trading.
The United States, which has accused Iran or its proxies of carrying out a May 12 attack on four tankers off the United Arab Emirates‘ coast as well as May 14 drone strikes on two Saudi oil-pumping stations, squarely blamed Iran for attacks.
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