WASHINGTON: The US envoy to Iran Brian Hook said Wednesday US intelligence proves “without question” Iran was behind the attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
Hook said that Iranian vessels operating in and around the Strait of Hormuz on June 12 and 13 approached tankers Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous before each ship suffered explosions on June 13.
“Those who have seen the intelligence all come away without any question Iran is behind these attacks,” Hook told a conressional hearing on the Trump adminstration's Iran policy.
Earlier this morning, two #tankers, #FrontAltair & #Kokuka Courageous, were reportedly torpedoed off the coast of #Oman. Watch their final movements before the reported #incidents in this past track video and learn more here: https://t.co/Odj8NYkkSm #marinetraffic pic.twitter.com/78XRuBorut— MarineTraffic (@MarineTraffic) June 13, 2019
Hook added that the intelligence showed a senior Islamic Republican Guard Corps (IRGC) official confirmed that its personnel had “completed two actions.”
Earlier the US Navy displayed mine fragments and a magnet it said it had removed from one of two oil tankers, saying the mines bore a striking resemblance to Iranian ones.
Addressing Iran’s involvement in Yemen, committee member Joe Wilson referred to the Houthi attack on Abha airport last week, which injured 26 people. He asked Hook how the US planned to hold Iran accountable for such actions, given Tehran’s support for the Houthis.
Hook said the US supported the right of countries like Saudi Arabia “who are on the front lines of Iranian agression” in their right to defend themselves when attacked, especially by the Houthi rebels.
“Iran has spent hundreds of millions of dollars organizing, training and equipping the Houthis to fight at a level beyond which makes any normal sense and it has prolonged and intensified the conflict,” Hook said.
“Iran is playing a very long game in Yemen They would very much like to do in Yemen what they have been able to do in Lebanon and to use the Houthis in the same model that they have used Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
Hook said there had been half a dozen attacks in the last six weeks and that this was why the US had beefed up its military presence in the region “to establish deterrents.”
The US on Monday announced the deployment of about 1,000 more troops to the region because of the threat from Iran. The deployment is in addition to a 1,500-troop increase announced last month. The US has also sent an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers.
The Pentagon Wednesday said the additional 1,000 troops would include a Patriot missile battalion, manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft and "other deterrence capabilities".
"The United States does not seek conflict with Iran, but we are postured and ready to defend U.S. forces and interests in the region," a Pentagon spokeswoman said.
Also during the hearing, Hook said Iran was trying to “sow military roots in Syria,” and is attempting to destabilize Lebanon through its support for Hezbollah.