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Russia: US footage, images on tanker attacks very vague, can’t prove ‘Iranian role’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (Photo by AFP)

Russia dismisses as “very vague” the so-called evidence the US has released to support the claim of Iran’s involvement in the recent attacks against tankers in the Sea of Oman, saying the footage and images do not prove anything.

“We do not have such intelligence data” on the culprit of the incident, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the TASS news agency on Tuesday.

He cast doubt on the video and images provided by the US as proof of what it calls an Iranian role in the attacks, which hit one Japanese-owned and one Norwegian-owned tanker, which were carrying Japanese-related crude near the strategic Strait of Hormuz on June 13.

Washington rushed to blame Iran for the incident. To support the claim, the US military also released a blurry video it claimed shows Iranian forces in a patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from the side of the Japanese-owned tanker.

It later released some images of the purported Iranian operation after the video was seriously challenged by experts and Washington’s own allies.

Lavrov further said, “We see the very vague alleged evidence provided by the United States, some video footage, some pictures, which raise serious questions even among its closest allies.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the US accusation lacks “a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence” and that it was actually part of “sabotage diplomacy” being pursued by US President Donald Trump and his hawkish allies.

The cause of the attacks are not yet known, but the Japanese shipping company has said two “flying objects” attacked its tanker in the Oman Sea, contradicting the US account that mines had hit the vessels. 

Elsewhere in his interview, the top Russian diplomat said Moscow, like Tehran, wants a probe into the attacks.

“We stand for conducting a thorough investigation of all these incidents. By the way, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been in favor of this from the very beginning,” he said.

Lavrov also raised alarm at the current tense situation in the region, calling on all parties to exercise restraint.

“We must demand that all parties show restraint and not allow any harsh actions, especially on the basis of the same logic that the West used in many other cases under the name ‘highly likely,’” he added.

Lavrov further called for “fostering a dialog between all the countries of the Persian Gulf,” warning that “those who rely on inciting passions between Arabs and Persians, Arabs and Kurds, inside the Arab world — between Sunnis and Shias — are not guided by the interests of the peoples of the region, but by their geopolitical narrow interests.”

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