US Admits Offensive-Capable US Drone Was in Area When Tanker Was Hit by "Flying Objects", Iran Says Attack Staged
After the president of the Japanese tanker company whose ship was hit in the Gulf of Oman called the US administration's claims that Iran was responsible "false," the Pentagon admitted that at least one US Reaper drone, which fires Hellfire missiles and other munitions, was in the area. The president of the Japanese tanker company insists that the ship was damaged not by an Iranian mine, as the Trump administration contends, but by "flying objects."
Iran has accused the US, or Israel, or a combination of both, of staging the attack, in order to inflame tensions and provide an excuse for an attack on Iran. A military attack on Iran has been a long-held goal of hawkish elements in both the US and Israel.
In February of this year at a conference in Warsaw, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:
"What is important about this meeting. and it is not in secret, because there are many of those—is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran,"
Both the governments of Japan and Germany have cast doubt on the US version of events, with a Japanese official quoted in Japan Today suggesting that, according to the criteria employed by the US to make its case, Israel or the US could just as easily be blamed.
In an article "Japan demands more proof from U.S. that Iran attacked tankers," the newspaper's online version reports:
If having expertise sophisticated enough to conduct the attack could be a reason to conclude that the attacker was Iran, "That would apply to the United States and Israel as well," said a source at the [Japanese] Foreign Ministry.
CBS News reported last Friday:
"Company president Yutaka Katada said Friday he believes the flying objects seen by the sailors could have been bullets. He denied any possibility of mines or torpedoes because the damage was above the ship's waterline. He called reports of a mine attack "false.""
The admission emerged as part of an attempt by the administration to cast blame at Iran for allegedly firing upon the offensively-capable drone, which the Pentagon said was conducting surveillance of the burning tanker after it was hit.
The Los Angeles Times reported:
"The Pentagon on Sunday accused Iran of attempting to shoot down a U.S. Reaper drone on June 13 as the unmanned surveillance aircraft was flying over one of two crippled tankers in the Gulf of Oman."
Iran has strenuously denied having anything to do with the attacks, and has instead blamed the US, Israel, or both, of being behind them. At the time of the attacks, the president of Japan, a major trading partner to Iran, was in Tehran on a peace mission to smooth future talks with the US.
The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper can fly unseen at an altitude of 25,000 feet and fire a Hellfire missile with a range of four miles, and a speed of 1,000 MPH. The Pentagon says the Iranians fired a surface-to-air missile which missed the drone by about one-half mile.
The MQ-9 Reaper can carry up to 4 AGM-114 Hellfire air to ground missiles, or four Hellfire missiles and two 500 lb GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs. The 500 lb GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) can also be carried.
The president of the tanker company and the Trump administration are at direct loggerheads over how the damage to the Japanese tanker occurred, with the company saying it was from flying projectiles, and President Trump saying, citing the Department of Defense, that it was a mine planted by Iran. Trump has shown a video released by the defense department which shows, in grainy footage, men aboard a boat pulled up to the side of a bigger ship. No ship's markings are visible in the short video.
The Washington Post in an article entitled "Trump rejects Iran’s denials that it attacked tankers, citing video released by Central Command" wrote:
"the head of the Japanese shipping company that owns one of the targeted tankers challenged the U.S. assertion that the vessel was attacked with limpet mines. He said Friday that the crew reported it was hit by “a flying object.”"
The New York Times reported:
"One of the tankers that were attacked in the Gulf of Oman was struck by a flying object, the ship’s Japanese operator said on Friday, expressing doubt that a mine had been attached to its hull."
Many on the Internet are calling recent tanker attacks which have been blamed on Iran false flag military operations. A "false flag" attack is one in which one country executes an attack which is then blamed on another country, or other political opposition, in order to spark a war, or fulfill some other political agenda. Scholars point to the Gulf of Tonkin, the Lavon Affair, and the still highly contentious case of the USS Liberty as examples.
In 2012 an American foreign policy intellectual with close ties to the conservative Washington establishment, Patrick Clawson, coined the term "crisis initiation." Clawson, a Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute, recited historical examples such as the USS Maine, the Gulf of Tonkin, and even Pearl Harbor, as he declared that:
"We are in the game of using covert means against the Iranians."
The Washington Institute was founded by Barbi Weinberg of Los Angeles, and Martin Indyk, a former deputy director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC.) The Washington Institute's board members include Henry Kissinger, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle, and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
The attack on the Japanese tanker is the latest in a series of attacks in which the US has blamed Iran without offering evidence. On May 12, four tankers near the port of Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman were attacked.
"The US blamed Iran for the attack, with US national security adviser John Bolton saying, "I think it is clear these (attacks) were naval mines almost certainly from Iran." He did not offer evidence that Tehran was responsible."
Of the Norwegian tanker which was attacked on the same day as the Japanese, on June 13, the US again blamed Iran without offering evidence. Before the disputed Pentagon footage was released allegedly depicting the Japanese tanker, CNN reported:
"Pompeo spoke hours after the two tankers were attacked and less than a month after four other ships in the region were struck in what appears to be a similar way. National Security Adviser John Bolton blamed Iran for those strikes at the time, again without offering evidence that Tehran was responsible."