WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) - A team of US military experts, performing an initial examination of the damage inflicted Sunday on four ships anchored off Fujairah, one of the United Arab Emirates’ seven principalities, tentatively concluded that Tehran was responsible, the Associated Press reported on Monday.
Citing an unnamed US official, the news agency explained that it appeared that Iran “or Iranian-backed proxies” had “used explosives” to “blow large holes in four ships.”
Two of the ships were Saudi oil tankers, which suffered “significant damage,” according to Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister. Another ship was a Norwegian oil tanker, and the fourth was a bunkering tanker flying the flag of Sharjah, another UAE emirate.
The US official said that each vessel had a five to ten foot hole “near or just below the water line,” and the “team’s early belief is that the holes were caused by explosive charges.”
The official did not explain why the sabotage was attributed to Iran, but a standard investigative question is to ask what party would have had the motive.
As tensions between the US and Iran have increased, Tehran has threatened to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz. The US Maritime Agency warned last Thursday that Iran might target commercial shipping in the area.
Asked earlier on Monday, “Are you concerned about the attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East?,” President Donald Trump responded, “It’s going to be a bad problem for Iran, if something happens, I can tell you that. They’re not going to be happy.”
Asked to clarify his comment, he said only, “You can figure it out yourself. They know what I mean by it.”
The New York Times reported late on Monday that the Pentagon had developed an “updated military plan” that would involve sending as much as 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran were to attack US forces or accelerate its nuclear weapons program.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reportedly presented the new planning, which includes several options, with the upper limit being 120,000 troops, last Thursday at a meeting of top national security officials that also included Amb. John Bolton, White House National Security Adviser; Gina Haspel, CIA Director; and Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence.
The Times’ report entitled, “White House Reviews Military Plans Against Iran, in Echoes of Iraq War,” scarcely concealed its disapproval of the new planning, however.
Editing by Nadia Riva