Wish Our Great President Happy Birthday [IT’S TOMORROW]
Two oil tankers flounder ablaze after a suspected torpedo attack – including one directly operated by the Japanese – on the same day Iran rebuffed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s calls to ease tensions with the United States.
Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.
Iran’s proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is imperative.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 13, 2019
Japan’s trade ministry said both tankers contained “Japan-related cargo.”
Both incidents occurred off the coast of Iran in the Strait of Hormuz, whose shipping lanes handle one-third of the world’s crude tankers.
The ambush comes after the U.S. alleged the Iranian Navy deliberately damaged four tankers last month with mines.
Cmdr. Joshua Frey, a 5th Fleet spokesman, said the U.S. Navy was assisting the two vessels that he described as being hit in a “reported attack.” He did not say how the ships were attacked or who was suspected of being behind the assault.
Dryad Global, a maritime intelligence firm, preliminarily identified one of the vessels involved as the MT Front Altair, a Marshall Islands-flagged crude oil tanker. The vessel was “on fire and adrift,” Dryad added. It did not offer a cause for the incident or mention the second ship.
The timing of Thursday’s reported attack was especially sensitive as Abe’s high-stakes diplomacy mission was underway in Iran. On Wednesday, after talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Abe warned that any “accidental conflict” that could be sparked amid the heightened U.S.-Iran tensions must be avoided.
Tensions have escalated in the Mideast as Iran appears poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, an accord that the Trump administration pulled out of last year.