On Thursday, two oil tankers suffered explosions and damage in the Gulf of Oman. These evident results of attacks followed a series of similar damaging incidents in May. Overnight, the United States Navy released a video that reportedly shows a small Iranian vessel next to the tanker Kokuka Courageous, carrying people who appeared to be removing a device that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo identified as an unexploded mine. Pompeo stated that the analysis of U.S. experts indicated that Iran carried out the attack using mines. However, there is at least one person who disagrees with this analysis—the owner of the tanker involved. Not only does he not think that Iran was behind the attack, but he doesn’t believe his ship was damaged by a mine.
The Kokuka Courageous is operated by Japanese company Kokuka Sangyo. The owner of the ship, Yutaka Katada, says that, according to the reports that have been made by the crew of the ship, the U.S. is wrong on just about every aspect of the attack. According to the Daily Beast, Katada contradicted the report by Pompeo and said that, rather than a mine, his ship was hit by “a flying object.” Katada claims this information came from those on board the ship at the time of the incident. He also states that the damage to his tanker was located “well above the waterline,” which would most likely exclude any sort of torpedo or submerged mine.
As The New York Times reports, Trump claimed that the Navy video shows a boat that “has Iran written all over it.” Trump also claimed that the video demonstrated not only that Iran was removing a mine, but that it was responsible for the attacks. “They don’t know that we have things that we can detect in the dark that work very well. We have that. It was them that did it.” Katada, again citing reports from the ship’s crew in a press briefing on Friday, said, “I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship.” During the incident, real-time comments from the ship indicated that it was hit by two “shells,” one of which injured a crew member.
The explosions and the video have increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran, as well as the possibility of a large-scale military conflict. Also adding to the tensions in the area is simple distrust of Trump, his claims, and his motivations. Suspicion has also been generated by the fact that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Iran meeting with officials at the time of the tanker incident. Those discussions had been described as “friendly” before word of the attacks emerged.