In a stunning development, U.S. Central Command has released a video which clearly proves Iran was behind the attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman (see article). The video was taken by U.S. surveillance aircraft and shows an Iranian attack craft approaching the crippled and abandoned tanker Front Altair which had suffered explosions earlier in the evening. The video then shows the Iranian crew removing what appears to be an unexploded magnetic mine, called a limpet mine, from the starboard side of the ship in what is assumed an attempt to remove evidence.
The U.S. Central Command also release a statement outlining the timeline of events of the video and subsequent naval action.
From the centcom.mil website:
At 8:09 a.m. local time a U.S. aircraft observed an IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp – a branch of Iran’s military] Hendijan class patrol boat and multiple IRGC fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft (FAC/FIAC) in the vicinity of the M/T [Motor Tanker] Altair.
At 9:12 a.m. local time a U.S. aircraft observes the FAC/FIAC pull a raft from the M/T Altair from the water.
At 9:26 a.m. local time the Iranians requested that the motor vessel Hyundai Dubai, which had rescued the sailors from the M/T Altair, to turn the crew over to the Iranian FIACs. The motor vessel Hyundai Dubai complied with the request and transferred the crew of the M/T Altair to the Iranian FIACs.
At 11:05 a.m. local time USS Bainbridge approaches the Dutch tug Coastal Ace, which had rescued the crew of twenty-one sailors from the M/T Kokuka Courageous who had abandoned their ship after discovering a probable unexploded limpet mine on their hull following an initial explosion.
While the Hendijan patrol boat appeared to attempt to get to the tug Coastal Ace before USS Bainbridge, the mariners were rescued by USS Bainbridge at the request of the master of the M/T Kokuka Courageous. The rescued sailors are currently aboard USS Bainbridge.
At 4:10 p.m. local time an IRGC Gashti Class patrol boat approached the M/T Kokuka Courageous and was observed and recorded removing the unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous.
The Iranian situation poses a unique challenge to the Trump administration. On the one hand, his policy of “maximum pressure” and recent warnings against further Iranian aggression virtually demands military action against U.S. and allied interests. On the other hand, the administration’s close relationship with the Russian government, who is tightly allied with Iran, may pre-empt any military action.
In a Fox News interview June 14th, when pressed on how the U.S. would respond, Trump said "It was them that did it… "We will see what happens. We are being very tough on sanctions ... We're going to see how to stop (it)"