- The Washington Times
Monday, June 17, 2019

The recent attacks on Japanese and Norwegian oil tankers in the Middle East had to have been a “state-sponsored” attack and not the work of extremist groups in the region, said the United Arab Emirates’ top diplomat.

“Our conclusion is this has only been possible by a state-sponsored attack,” U.A.E. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan told reporters Saturday. He did not provide details as to which nation officials in Abu Dhabi believe was behind the strikes on the Japanese oil tanker Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair in the Gulf of Oman.

“We haven’t named the state, but we hope that we can further work with our friends and partners in preventing such escalations from moving forward,” he said after bilateral talks with senior Cypriot diplomats in Nicosia.

Mr. Al Nahan’s comments came a day before Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman called on other countries to take a “decisive stand” against the alleged attack.

“The kingdom does not want a war in the region but it will not hesitate to deal with any threats to its people, its sovereignty, or its vital interests,” he said Sunday during in an interview with Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

Trump administration officials say Washington has more irrefutable evidence of Iranian involvement in the tanker attacks. U.S. Central Command officials have already released video of a Gashti-class Iranian patrol boat with members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) removing an unexploded limpet sea mine from the hull of the Kokuka Courageous.

On Sunday, U.S. military officials confirmed an American MQ-9 Reaper drone was fired upon while conducting aerial surveillance during a pair of attacks against the Kokuka Courageous and the Front Altair.

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