UAE says tanker attack was 'sophisticated and coordinated'

UAE tells Security Council that attacks on four tankers was most likely carried out by a state actor, but does not name Iran.

Elad Benari ,

UN Security Council
UN Security Council

The United Arab Emirates told United Nations Security Council members on Thursday that attacks on four tankers off its coast on May 12 bore the hallmarks of a “sophisticated and coordinated operation,” most likely by a state actor, Reuters reports.

However, the document to the Security Council authored by the UAE, Norway and Saudi Arabia, did not say who it believed was behind the attacks and did not mention Iran, which has been accused by the United States of being directly responsible.

The three countries said the attacks required expert navigation of fast boats and trained divers who likely placed limpet mines with a high degree of precision on the vessels under the waterline.

“While investigations are still ongoing, these facts are strong indications that the four attacks were part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation carried out by an actor with significant operational capacity, most likely a state actor,” the three countries said in the document, according to Reuters.

A day after the May 12 attack, the Saudi Energy Minister said that two of the ships that were attacked were Saudi oil tankers that were en route to the United States.

An American military team assessing the blasts that damaged the four commercial ships blamed Iran or Iranian-backed proxies using explosive charges.

US national security adviser John Bolton said on May 29 that the attacks were the work of “naval mines almost certainly from Iran.”

A few days earlier in May, at the Pentagon, U.S. Rear Admiral Michael Gilday accused Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of being directly responsible for the attacks.

Israel’s Kan 11 News reported this week that Israel collected information identifying Iran as responsible for sabotaging vessels off the United Arab Emirates near the Strait of Hormuz last month.

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Wednesday denied that his country was behind the attack and accused the Mossad of “fabricating intelligence” about Iran’s involvement in the attack.

The attack amid rising tensions between the US and Iran, after the US military deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Middle East in a move that US officials said was made to counter “clear indications” of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.