Corbyn denies UK had 'credible evidence' in blaming Iran for tanker attack

Iran has denied any involvement.

June 16, 2019 14:42
3 minute read.
Corbyn denies UK had 'credible evidence' in blaming Iran for tanker attack

British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn holds the Political Declaration, setting out the framework for the future UK-EU relations, at his office in the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain April 2, 2019.. (photo credit: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/REUTERS)


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Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called for the government to restrain from escalating political tensions between the United Kingdom and Iran after the UK charged the Islamic Republic with attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

The attack has been condemned worldwide, with the Islamic Republic has being blamed for the attack by the U.S. as well. The U.S. released a video showing unknown operatives planting a limpet charge onto the tanker. In addition, the U.S. charged Iran with attacking a U.S. surveillance drone before the tanker sabotage to cover their clandestine operations.

Corbyn tweeted on Saturday that "Britain should act to ease tensions in the Gulf, not fuel a military escalation." and added that "without credible evidence about the tanker attacks, the government's rhetoric will only increase the threat of war."

Hunt responded to Corbyn's tweet by questioning why the Labour leader can "never bring himself to back British allies, British intelligence, or British interests?"

“Pathetic and predictable,” Hunt continued. “From Salisbury to the Middle East, why can he never bring himself to back British allies, British intelligence or British interests?”

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office in the UK backed Hunt by saying in a release that, "No other state or non-state actor could plausibly have been responsible. We are confident that Iran bears responsibility for that attack."

Iran on Saturday summoned the British ambassador to Tehran after London blamed it for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, the semi-official Students News Agency ISNA reported.

"During the meeting with Iran's foreign ministry official, Iran strongly condemned the unfounded allegations and criticized Britain's unacceptable stance regarding the attacks in the Gulf of Oman," it said.

The ambassador was asked for an explanation and correction after Britain was the only nation to echo U.S. accusations, ISNA reported.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt issued a statement on Friday blaming Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for the attacks, saying no other state or non-state actor could have been responsible.

Iran has denied any involvement.

Hunt said on Sunday Britain is "almost certain" Iran was behind attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, adding that London did not believe anyone else could have done it.

Asked whether Iran was behind the attacks on the tankers, Hunt told the BBC's Andrew Marr show: "We have done our own intelligence assessment and the phrase we used is almost certain ... We don't believe anyone else could have done this."

"We are urging all sides to de-escalate."

The attacks have raised fears of a confrontation in the vital oil shipping route of the Strait of Hormuz at a time of increased tension between Iran and the United States.

During a Fox News interview, U.S. President Donald Trump told the conservative news station that Iran did in fact purport the attacks.

“I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it,” Trump said. “And you saw the boat at night trying to take the mine off and successfully took the mine off the boat, and that was exposed.”

Thursday's attacks were the second time in little over a month that an oil tankers have been attacked in the region. On May 12 four ships were sabotaged in the Gulf of Oman, two from the UAE and one from Saudi Arabia and Norway.

The UK is intended to send 100 Royal Marines to the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to protect British ships and other interests in the region, as the fallout from the attack on two tankers last week escalates, The Times reported.

As the pressure increases after Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers were attacked last week, Britain has joined the US, Saudi Arabia and others in accusing Iran of carrying out the attacks.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Friday said there was no reason not to believe the United States' assessment that Iran was responsible for the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.

In response, Iran summoned the British ambassador to Tehran on Saturday and condemned Britain's stance on the current tensions.

Alex Winston and Reuters contributed to this report.

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