Robert HARNEIS -TDO - (FRANCE) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has dismissed the US military’s video, saying it is not sufficient to prove Iran was behind attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.
“The video is not enough. We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me,” Maas said. President Trump insisted earlier in his own comments to reporters that the video was enough and clearly proved Iran was behind the attack.
The video itself was release late Thursday night by US Central Command, and is quite problematic. It is grainy black and white footage of a boat, putatively Iranian, alongside a ship, putatively one of the tankers. The first few seconds show movement that might suggest an interaction of some sort, then the next minute and a half show nothing, but zoom in and zoom out in jarring ways.
All of this is meant to prove Iranian sailors removed an unexploded mine from the boat, though there would be multiple problems with that, as the holes in the ships were far above the water line, where a mine explosion would take place, and the boat in question in the video also seemed to be focused on a part of the ship too high out of the water to possibly be a floating mine.
The US allegations were further called into question by the Japanese ship owner of the tanker that was attacked on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, the Kokuka Outrageous, contradicted the US military’s claims about the attack. Central Command reported that the two tankers were hit with limpet mines, a type of mine that is attached to the hull of a ship below the waterline using magnets. But Yutaka Katada, the owner of the Kokuka Outrageous, said he received reports a projectile hit the ship.
"We received reports that something flew towards the ship," Katada said at a press conference, "The place where the projectile landed was significantly higher than the water level, so we are absolutely sure that this wasn’t a torpedo. I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship."
In an interview with Fox and Friends Friday morning, President Trump blamed Iran for the attacks on the tankers. Trump cited the video as proof, "Well Iran did do it, and you know they did it because you saw the boat. I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it."
Trump, who has been known to sometimes contradict his more hawkish cabinet members, fell in line with his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who on Thursday, accused Iran of attacking the tankers with no evidence to back up his claim.
No US officials have responded to the Japanese ship owner’s claims.
Even Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt chose his words carefully, "We are going to make our own independent assessment, we have our processes to do that, (but) we have no reason not to believe the American assessment” adding bizarrely “and our instinct is to believe it because they are our closest ally." The presumption being that if the accusations had come from a nation that was not Britain’s closest ally then he would not believe it.