Responsibility ‘almost certainly’ lies with Tehran, says Jeremy Hunt

Britain’s prime ministerial candidate Jeremy Hunt appears on BBC TV’s The Andrew Marr Show in London on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 17 June 2019
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Responsibility ‘almost certainly’ lies with Tehran, says Jeremy Hunt

  • “We have done our own intelligence assessment and the phrase we used is almost certain,” Hunt said
  • Blast-hit tankers to be assessed off UAE coast before their cargos are unloaded

LONDON/DUBAI: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned on Saturday there was a “great risk” of escalation in the Gulf, adding that Washington wanted the situation to end in negotiations.The two oil tankers crippled in attacks in the Gulf of Oman last week that Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Iran are being assessed off the coast off the UAE before their cargos are unloaded, the ships’ operators said on Sunday.
A Japanese-owned tanker, the Kokuka Courageous, and a Norwegian-operated one, the Front Altair, were attacked on Thursday and left ablaze as they were passing through the Gulf of Oman. Britain has concluded that responsibility “almost certainly” lies with Iran. Asked on BBC television about the possibility of escalation, he said: “This is the great risk of the situation that we are in. “Both sides in this dispute think that the other side wouldn’t want a war. We are urging all sides to de-escalate.
“Having spoken to President Trump, I am absolutely clear that for America they want this to end in negotiations. “Let’s see Iran stop its destabilizing activities in Lebanon through Hezbollah, in Yemen where they are firing missiles into Saudi Arabia, on the Gulf as we have seen. That is the long-term solution.”
The damaged Kokuka Courageous arrived on Sunday at a UAE anchorage site as Saudi Arabia accused Iran of being behind the attack. US President Donald Trump has said the twin attacks had Iran “written all over it” — rejecting Tehran’s vehement denial. Hunt defended his assertion that Iran was “almost certain” to blame for the attacks.
“We have done our own intelligence assessment. We have got videos of what happened. We have seen evidence. We don’t believe anyone else could have done this,” he said.
The owner of the Japanese vessel said Friday in Tokyo however that the crew saw a “flying object” prior to a second blast on board citing two apparent attacks.
He added he believed initial reports suggesting a torpedo was involved in the attack were incorrect as the damage was above the sea surface not below water, which would have suggested a torpedo.


Adelkhah’s arrest risks increasing tension between Paris and Tehran

Adelkhah Fariba. (AFP)
Updated 3 min 28 sec ago
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Adelkhah’s arrest risks increasing tension between Paris and Tehran

  • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian project manager with Thomson Reuters Foundation, has been detained in Tehran since 2016 on sedition charges, a case that has caused major tensions with the UK

TEHRAN: Iran confirmed Tuesday the arrest of a French-Iranian academic without giving any details of her case, the latest in a long list of dual nationals held in the country’s prisons.
The detention of Fariba Adelkhah, 60, risks increasing tension between Paris and Tehran.
Adelkhah is a well-known expert on Iran at France’s prestigious Sciences Po university.
“She is among suspects that have been recently arrested,” Iran’s judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said, without specifying the accusations against her.
“Now is not an appropriate time to give more information on this case,” Esmaili told reporters at a news conference broadcast by the judiciary’s news website Mizan Online.
Sciences Po said the arrest of the researcher was “unacceptable and shocking.”
“We will do our utmost to ensure our colleague Fariba is released as soon as possible and under the best conditions,” it said in a statement.
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed concern for her welfare on Monday after his government said the dual national was arrested but had been denied contact with consular staff.
“What has happened worries me a great deal,” Macron said. “We have been aware of this for some days.”
“I have expressed my disagreement and asked President (Hassan) Rouhani for clarification,” he said, adding that France had so far received no meaningful explanation.
Adelkhah is the latest Iranian national with a Western passport to be arrested in Iran.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian project manager with Thomson Reuters Foundation, has been detained in Tehran since 2016 on sedition charges, a case that has caused major tensions with the UK.
Other Iranian dual nationals jailed in Iran include Iranian-American Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer, who are serving 10-year sentences for espionage in a case that has outraged Washington.
Chinese-American Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University researcher, is serving a 10-year sentence for espionage, and US national Michael White, 46, was this year also sentenced to 10 years.