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BRITISH and US claims that Iran is behind two oil tanker explosions are “the most dangerous threat of war” yet, peace campaigners warned today.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the first to accuse Iran of having attacked Norway’s Front Altair and Japan’s Kokuka Courageous as the two tankers sailed through the Gulf of Oman yesterday.
But journalist and peace campaigner John Pilger told the Morning Star there was “not a shred of evidence” to suggest Iran was responsible and nobody should trust the Trump administration.
Mr Pompeo, without presenting evidence to support his claim, said his allegations were “based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation” and more.
President Donald Trump repeated the claims today during an interview with Fox News, alleging that a video proves Tehran’s guilt.
The video is said to show an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boat approaching one of the tankers and removing an unexploded mine from its hull. But the ship’s Japanese owner contradicted the US interpretation yesterday, saying footage showed something flying at the boat above the water line.
Mr Trump promised the US won’t “take it lightly.”
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said there was no reason not to believe the US’s assessment, despite the cause of the explosion not yet being confirmed.
The Tory Party leadership hopeful said “our instinct is to believe it because they are our closest ally.”
But Mr Pilger said it was “no exaggeration to say nothing coming out of the mouths of the Trump gang is believable.
“Why would Iran attack a Japanese ship while it was hosting a friendly and solicitous Shinzo Abe in Tehran. There is, however, abundant historical evidence that the US has raised infamous false flags as a prelude to an attack. Iran has never been forgiven for throwing out the Shah’s American-backed police state in 1979.”
Stop the War’s Lindsey German said that the allegations are “the most dangerous threat of war in Iran.”
She told the Star: “There is no evidence Iran is behind the tanker attack but Pompeo is making the claim — of course backed up 100 per cent by Jeremy Hunt.
“Trump and the US have escalated this crisis through sanctions and scrapping Iran’s nuclear deal. The Tory Party leadership hopefuls will bang the drum for war.
“We must say no war on Iran — it will be a conflict involving Israel and Saudi against Iran and so the bloodiest Middle East war yet.”
Tudeh Party international secretary Navid Shomali told the Star the Iranian communist party is “extremely concerned” by the incident but found the developments and explanations “very quickly proffered by the US curious to say the least.”
He said that the incident and the narrative around it “only serves to benefit those working to produce the spark that ignites a military attack on Iran.”
Mr Shomali said: “The Islamic Republic — preoccupied as always with its self-preservation at any cost — has tapered down its rhetoric and stepped back from a position of brinksmanship with the Trump administration.
“For any arm of its military or security apparatus to have been involved in these latest incidents — and be filmed in the act — would be bizarre.”
Mr Shomali said the culpability more likely lies with “those desperate to precipitate a military conflict with Iran,” such as US security adviser John Bolton, Saudi or Israeli intelligence, or actors and mercenaries from Iran or countries in the region which are facilitated and supported by US intelligence services.
Iranian officials have categorically denied the accusations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping criticised Washington over the allegations and said China would build “steady ties” with Iran whatever the US did.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the US was posing “a serious threat to stability in the Middle East.
“The pressure that the US is exerting on Iran, China and other states is aimed at strengthening US hegemony on Asia and the whole world.”
Tensions were raised between Tehran and Washington when Mr Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, and reimposed sanctions that were lifted under the deal in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear work.
Last month, Mr Trump moved to force Iran’s oil customers to slash their imports to zero or face US financial sanctions.
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