An oil tanker is seen after it was attacked at the Gulf of Oman, June 13, 2019.
ISNA | Reuters
WASHINGTON – The Japanese owner of one of the oil tankers attacked near Iran on Thursday said that the vessel was struck by a projectile and not by a mine, which is what U.S. officials assessed as the source of the blast.
« We received reports that something flew towards the ship, » Yutaka Katada, president of Kokuka Sangyo said at a press conference Friday. « I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship, » he said, adding that a projectile landed above the waterline.
On Thursday, U.S. Central Command said in a statement that the Japanese oil tanker Kokuka Courageous had an « unexploded limpet mine on their hull following an initial explosion. »
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
President Donald Trump said Friday that if Iran were to block the Strait of Hormuz, « it’s not going to be closed for long, » but did not elaborate on what potential steps the U.S. would take in response. « They’re not going to be closing [the strait], » Trump reiterated during a telephone interview on « Fox & Friends. »
Earlier this year, Iran threatened to close the strait in response to a U.S. decision to end waivers on reimposed sanctions for companies that export oil from Iran. The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important oil choke point. It’s a gateway for almost a third of all seaborne crude oil.
America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, blamed Iran for Thursday’s attacks without citing specific evidence as to why Tehran was responsible.
« Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful maximum pressure campaign lifted, » Pompeo said Thursday. « No economic sanctions entitle the Islamic Republic to attack innocent civilians, disrupt global oil markets and engage in nuclear blackmail. »
« The international community condemns Iran’s assault on the freedom of navigation and the targeting of innocent civilians, » he said, adding that the U.S. will defend its forces, interests and partners.