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Yutaka Katada, president of the Japanese company that operates the Kokuka Courageous tanker, told reporters in Tokyo that there is a "high chance" the vessel was attacked by a "flying object." (Photo: Kyodo via Reuters)

Contradicting Trump Claim of Iranian Mine Attack, Owner of Japanese Oil Tanker Says 'Flying Object' Likely Caused Explosions

"I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship," said Yutaka Katada

Jake Johnson

During a press conference just hours after the U.S. released video footage that purported to show an Iranian boat removing an unexploded mine from the side of an oil tanker, the Japanese owner of that vessel said Friday that the ship was likely damaged by a "flying object" and called claims of a mine attack "false."

"I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship," Yutaka Katada, president of the Japanese company that operates the Kokuka Courageous tanker, told reporters in Tokyo.

Katada's account of the attack appeared to contradict the Trump administration's suggestion that Iranian mines were responsible for the explosions that damaged the Kokuka Courageous and one other oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.

As Common Dreams reported Friday, major American media outlets uncritically propagated the U.S. military's video footage and accompanying claims, despite widespread skepticism from independent critics and other nations.

In his first public comments on the oil tanker attacks, President Donald Trump said during a telephone interview on "Fox & Friends" Friday morning that "Iran did do it," pointing to the U.S. military's grainy video footage.

"You know they did it because you saw the boat," Trump said. "You know they did it, because you saw the boat, I guess one of the mines didn't explode and it's probably got, essentially, Iran written all over it."

But Katada said the crew members who were aboard the Kokuka Courageous at the time of the attack believe the vessel was damaged by "something [that] flew towards them."

"That created the hole, is the report I've received," Katada said. "It seems there was a high chance they were attacked by a flying object. The impact was well above the water. I don't think it was a torpedo."

Katada did not suggest a possible culprit, and the Japanese government is reportedly "gathering information" on the attacks before it reaches a conclusion.

Iran denied any responsibility for the tanker explosions, which occurred as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in an effort to negotiate a reduction of tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted Thursday that it is "abundantly clear" that the Trump administration is attempting to "sabotage diplomacy" and "cover up its economic terrorism against Iran," which has included crippling sanctions.

"I warned of exactly this scenario a few months ago, not because I'm clairvoyant, but because I recognize where the B-Team is coming from," Zarif wrote, referring to a group of officials that consists of U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a statement on Thursday, the Iranian mission to the United Nations called the Trump administration's accusations "unfounded" and said the U.S. is engaged in "false flag operations."

"Neither fabrications and disinformation campaigns nor shamelessly blaming others can change the realities," the statement read. "The U.S. and its regional allies must stop warmongering and put an end to mischievous plots as well as false flag operations in the region."

"Warning, once again, about all of the U.S. coercion, intimidation, and malign behavior," the statement added, "Iran expresses concern over suspicious incidents for the oil tankers that occurred today."


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