Iran and the United States are trading accusations over attacks on two petrochemical tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.
U.S. Central Command has released a video that purportedly shows Iranian boats retrieving unexploded mines from one of the tankers, but Iran has denied any involvement in the attacks and accused the United States of sabotage. President Trump claimed in a television interview that the Iranians “did do it.”
However, the president of the Japanese shipping company that owns one of the tankers says that crew members spotted a “flying object,” and contradicted the United States’ claim that mines caused the damage.
“The crew are saying it was hit with a flying object. They say something come flying toward them, then there was an explosion, then there was a hole in the vessel,” Yutaka Katada, president of the Kokuka Sangyo shipping firm, told reporters according to the Washington Post. “Then some crew witnessed a second shot.”
He also noted that the shell struck well above the water surface, meaning it could not have been a mine or torpedo.
The destroyer USS Bainbridge rescued 21 crew members from one of the tankers, and Iran’s navy rescued crew members from the other tanker, which is a Norwegian-owned ship.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for what he called a “blatant assault” on the vessels, and pledged that the United States would defend against Iranian aggression.