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UN chief urges independent inquiry into oil tanker attacks

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an independent probe into Thursday’s attacks on two oil tankers in the Sea of Oman in the face of US efforts to frame Iran.

Guterres underlined the need for an investigation to establish the facts about the attacks, adding that he believed only the Security Council could order a UN inquiry.

“It’s very important to know the truth and it’s very important that responsibilities are clarified. Obviously that can only be done if there is an independent entity that verifies those facts,” he said.

The Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous and Norwegian-owned Front Altair oil tankers were struck by explosions near the strategic Strait of Hormuz waterway in the early hours of Thursday.

Japan’s government said both vessels were carrying “Japanese-related” cargo. The attacks came as Japanese PM Shinzo Abe was meeting with Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei in Tehran.

The cause of the attack is not yet known, but the Japanese shipping company has said two “flying objects” attacked its tanker in the Oman Sea, contradicting the US account that mines had hit the vessels.

A few hours after Thursday’s attacks, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offhandedly blamed Iran for the attack without providing evidence. US President Donald Trump also claimed that the incident had Iran “written all over it”

Iran was the first country to respond to a distress call and rush to the assistance of the oil tankers, transferring all their 44 crew members to its southern shores.

“The US government has turned into a serious threat to the stability of the region and the world over the past two years through misusing its economic, financial and military capacities,” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Friday.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also tweeted that the US had “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence.”

He said the US allegations against Iran over the tanker attacks were part of “sabotage diplomacy” adopted by the so-called B-Team.

On Thursday, Iran’s deputy ambassador to the UN Es’haq Al-e Habib brushed aside the US claims that Tehran was responsible for the attacks in the Sea of Oman.

“Strongly we are rejecting any accusation of Iran,” he said. “Definitely, those that accuse Iran have the main role in creating those incidents and it could be the United States itself.”

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