On Thursday, the Japanese owner of one of the oil tankers attacked near Iran said the vessel was struck by a projectile and not by a mine, which is what U.S. officials considered to be the source of the blast.
It appeared for a moment on Thursday that the U.S. Navy had produced the ‘smoking gun’ that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had alluded to during his statement from earlier in the day: CENTCOM footage that the Navy said was supposed to show Iran’s IRGC ‘ caught in the act ‘ of trying to remove an unexploded mine from the Kokuka Courageous, one of the two tankers damaged in the attacks on Thursday.
CENTCOM said the video it published showed the IRGC removing from one of the tankers an unexploded limpet mine, implying that Tehran had tried to extract proof from the scene.
Iran continued to deny any involvement in the attacks after release of the video. And maybe now we know why.
Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo, owner and operator of the Kokuka Courageous, said Friday in comments that cast doubt in the entire narrative published by the US, that he doesn’t believe Washington’s version of events.
Instead, he said the vessel wasn’t damaged by a mine, but by some sort of projectile, like, say, a torpedo. He called “false” reports of a mine attack. One reason is that a mine doesn’t harm a ship above sea level, like the Courageous.
Seafarers on board the Courageous saw “flying items” just before the ship was struck, according to the CEO, indicating that the vessel was not harmed by mines, but by items that could have been shot from a range.
Katada’s remarks contradict Washington’s claims of a mine assault, although the CEO mentioned that his crew had found a neighboring Iranian navy vessel around the moment of the assault, although he did not say it was before or after the assault.