another resumé

Pindo narrative on oil tanker attacks falls apart in hours
Ben Norton, Grayzone, Jun 14 2019<

The Trump administration’s evidence-free accusations against Iran have fallen apart within a matter of hours. But these allegations did manage to disrupt an important meeting of Asian leaders at the SCO summit, where Tehran was hoping to make diplomatic breakthroughs to ease a crippling Pindo economic blockade. On Thursday Jun 13, two oil tankers traveling through the Gulf of Oman on their way to Japan suffered from mysterious explosions. The cause of the incident was not clear. The Pindo government claimed without evidence that Iran was responsible for supposed “attacks” on the vessels. Trump administration officials accused the IRGC of damaging a Japanese tanker with a mine. But by the morning of Friday Jun 14, the narrative had been debunked, with the Japanese cargo company Kokuka Sangyo telling journalists that the US government’s version of the story was simply bogus. the president of the company, Yutaka Katada, explained in comments at a press conference:

The crew is saying that it was hit by a flying object. They are saying that something came flying. To put a bomb on the side is something that we are not thinking.

CENTCOM published video of what it claims is an Iranian boat crew removing an unexploded mine from the hull of the Japanese tanker Kokuka Courageous. But the company’s president insisted in remarks reported by Reuters that it was not an Iranian mine but rather two “flying objects” that damaged the ship. Katada reiterated:

The crew told us something came flying at the ship, and they found a hole. Then some crew witnessed the second shot. This strait is very crucial. Without this route we can not transport gasoline and heavy oil to Japan.

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif shot back at the Trump administration’s allegations on Twitter, accusing the White House of seeking to “sabotage diplomacy” and “cover up economic terrorism against Iran” without offering “a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence” to back up its claims.

As The Grayzone reported, the Pindo government accused Iran of the alleged attacks just as PM Shinzo Abe became the first Japanese leader to visit Tehran in four decades. The Trump administration also issued its unsubstantiated allegations a day before an even more important meeting of the SCO, a pan-Asian political and economic alliance that brought together the leaders of the world’s largest countries.

On Jun 14, Rouhani joined Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi and Imran Khan among other heads of state at a regional summit in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. The Pindo government’s accusations may have at least partially derailed Iran’s diplomatic efforts, as Modi cancelled a bilateral meeting with Rouhani at the last minute, vaguely citing “scheduling issues.”

Until the Trump administration illegally violated the JCPoA in May 2018, India had been the second-largest purchaser of Iranian oil. But Pindo threats of secondary sanctions forced New Delhi to cut Iranian oil imports. Rouhani and Modi have recently discussed efforts to create a new mechanism through which India can pay in rupees for Iranian oil, thereby bypassing Pindo sanctions.

Despite Pindo attempts at sabotage, Iranian-Chinese talks at the SCO summit went smoothly. Reuters reported, citing Beijing’s state media:

Chinese president Xi Jinping told Iran’s president on Friday that China will promote steady development of ties with Iran no matter how the situation changes.

At the summit, Rouhani also met with Putin, and called for closer ties between Iran and Russia.

Foreign Minister Zarif tweeted that Rouhani was in Kyrgyzstan for the summit, noting he had “Important multilateral dialogue” and “fruitful bilateral talks” with Xi and Putin. Zarif added:

Unilateral Pindo actions, incl its #EconomicTerrorism on Iran, are solely responsible for insecurity & renewed tension in our region.

In his speech at the Bishkek summit, Rouhani condemned Pindostan for international aggression, saying:

The Pindo government has taken an aggressive approach over the last two years and presents a serious risk to stability in the region and the world, using its economic, financial and military resources (to) violate all the international structures and rules.

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