Saudis Join the War Against Iran

The crude oil tanker Front Altair on fire in the Gulf of Oman after Thursday's attack [File: EPA]
The crude oil tanker Front Altair on fire in the Gulf of Oman after Thursday’s attack [File: EPA]

The United States has blamed Iran for the attacks, but Tehran has denied any role in the incidents and called the accusations “ridiculous” and “dangerous”.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih on Saturday said “there must be a rapid and decisive response to the threat” to energy supplies, market stability and consumer confidence after the attacks in the Gulf area, the Saudi Energy Ministry reported on Twitter.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also called for world powers on Saturday to help secure maritime traffic and energy supplies.

“The international community must cooperate to secure international navigation and access to energy,” UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said at a summit in Bulgaria.

On Friday, the US released a grainy video it claimed showed Iran’s military removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers, Kokuka Courageous, hours after the suspected attacks.

Iran said the video proved nothing and that Tehran was being made into a scapegoat.

INTERACTIVE: Gulf of Oman - oil tankers incident, June 15, 2019

“The more information that we can declassify, the more information we can share, we will. And that’s our intent,” Shanahan said.

The release of the black-and-white footage came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said US intelligence agencies had concluded that Iran was responsible for the attacks, without offering concrete evidence.

On Friday, in a TV interview on Fox News, Trump said, “Iran did do it”.

“You know they did it because you saw the boat,” Trump told the Fox and Friends show. “I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it.”

But Yutaka Katada, owner of the Kokuka Courageous, cast doubt on part of the US account, telling reporters on Friday that the vessel’s crew saw a “flying object” before a second blast on the boat.

Calling reports of a mine attack “false”, he said: “The crew was saying it was hit by a flying object … To put a bomb at the side of the boat is not something we are considering.”

For its part, Iran rejected the accusations as the United Nations, Russia and Qatar called for an international investigation into the reported attacks.

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said the US had “immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence”.

The allegation “only makes it abundantly clear” that the US and its regional allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, were moving to a “Plan B”, Zarif said, which was to “sabotage diplomacy” as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Iran to defuse escalating US-Iran frictions.

The director general of ports and maritime affairs of Iran’s Hormozgan province told Iran’s student-run ISNA news agency on Saturday that no marine pollution was detected after the tanker explosions.

The 23 seamen of the second tanker, Front Altair, who were rescued and brought to Bandar Abbas, arrived in Dubai on Saturday, according to the ship’s owners and managers.

The other tanker, the Kokuka Courageous with 21 crew on board, arrived on Friday in the port of Khor Fakkan in the UAE, ISNA reported.

Arab League caution

On Friday, the head of the Arab League called on the Iranians to “be careful and reverse course”.

Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit noted, after meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at UN headquarters in New York, that there are conflicting reports about how Thursday’s tanker incidents occurred.

“We believe that responsibilities need to be clearly defined,” he said. “The facts will be revealed, I am sure, it’s only a matter of time.”

Aboul Gheit added “My call to my Iranian – and I call them Iranian brothers: Be careful and reverse course because you’re pushing everybody towards a confrontation that no one would be safe if it happens.”

The British government said it agreed with the US conclusion that Iran attacked the tankers.

The Foreign Office said in a statement that its own assessment concluded “it is almost certain that a branch of the Iranian military,” the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, had attacked the tankers.

It said it also believed Iran was behind an attack last month on four tankers near the UAE port of Fujairah.

On May 12, days after Washington announced the military deployment, four oil tankers near the port were damaged in what the UAE called “sabotage attacks”.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry called in British Ambassador Rob Macaire on Saturday to submit “a few explanations,” state news agency IRNA reported, without giving further details.

Nuclear deal compliance

Separately, the Iranian president on Saturday told a meeting of Russian, Chinese and other Asian leaders in Tajikistan that Iran will continue scaling back compliance with its commitments under the nuclear deal unless other signatories show “positive signals”.

Iran stopped complying in May with some commitments in a 2015 nuclear deal that was agreed with global powers, a year after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord and tightened sanctions.

Tehran said in May that Iran would start enriching uranium at a higher level unless world powers protected its economy from US sanctions within 60 days.

“Obviously, Iran cannot stick to this agreement unilaterally,” President Hassan Rouhani told the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia.

“It is necessary that all the sides of this agreement contribute to restoring it,” he said, adding that Iran needed to see “positive signals” from other signatories to the pact, which include Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

He did not give details on what actions Iran would take or say what positive signals Tehran wanted to see.

France and other European signatories to the deal, which aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, have said they wanted to save it, but many of their companies have cancelled deals with Tehran under financial pressure from the US.

Western powers have accused Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies, saying it wants nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

New York Earthquake: City of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New York earthquake: City at risk of ‚dangerous shaking from far away‘

Joshua Nevett

Published 30th April 2018

SOME of New York City’s tallest skyscrapers are at risk of being shaken by seismic waves triggered by powerful earthquakes from miles outside the city, a natural disaster expert has warned.

Researchers believe that a powerful earthquake, magnitude 5 or greater, could cause significant damage to large swathes of NYC, a densely populated area dominated by tall buildings.

A series of large fault lines that run underneath NYC’s five boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island, are capable of triggering large earthquakes.

Some experts have suggested that NYC is susceptible to at least a magnitude 5 earthquake once every 100 years.

The last major earthquake measuring over magnitude 5.0 struck NYC in 1884 – meaning another one of equal size is “overdue” by 34 years, according their prediction model.

Natural disaster researcher Simon Day, of University College London, agrees with the conclusion that NYC may be more at risk from earthquakes than is usually thought.

EARTHQUAKE RISK: New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from far-away tremors

But the idea of NYC being “overdue” for an earthquake is “invalid”, not least because the “very large number of faults” in the city have individually low rates of activity, he said.

The model that predicts strong earthquakes based on timescale and stress build-up on a given fault has been “discredited”, he said.

What scientists should be focusing on, he said, is the threat of large and potentially destructive earthquakes from “much greater distances”.

The dangerous effects of powerful earthquakes from further away should be an “important feature” of any seismic risk assessment of NYC, Dr Day said.

GETTY

THE BIG APPLE: An aerial view of Lower Manhattan at dusk in New York City

USGS

RISK: A seismic hazard map of New York produced by USGS

“New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances” Dr Simon Day, natural disaster researcher

This is because the bedrock underneath parts of NYC, including Long Island and Staten Island, cannot effectively absorb the seismic waves produced by earthquakes.

“An important feature of the central and eastern United States is, because the crust there is old and cold, and contains few recent fractures that can absorb seismic waves, the rate of seismic reduction is low.

Central regions of NYC, including Manhattan, are built upon solid granite bedrock; therefore the amplification of seismic waves that can shake buildings is low.

But more peripheral areas, such as Staten Island and Long Island, are formed by weak sediments, meaning seismic hazard in these areas is “very likely to be higher”, Dr Day said.

“Thus, like other cities in the eastern US, New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances than is the case for cities on plate boundaries such as Tokyo or San Francisco, where the crustal rocks are more fractured and absorb seismic waves more efficiently over long distances,” Dr Day said.

In the event of a large earthquake, dozens of skyscrapers, including Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street, could be at risk of shaking.

“The felt shaking in New York from the Virginia earthquake in 2011 is one example,” Dr Day said.

On that occasion, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered 340 miles south of New York sent thousands of people running out of swaying office buildings.

USGS

FISSURES: Fault lines in New York City have low rates of activity, Dr Day said

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was “lucky to avoid any major harm” as a result of the quake, whose epicenter was near Louisa, Virginia, about 40 miles from Richmond.

“But an even more impressive one is the felt shaking from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes in the central Mississippi valley, which was felt in many places across a region, including cities as far apart as Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, and in a few places even further afield including,” Dr Day added.

“So, if one was to attempt to do a proper seismic hazard assessment for NYC, one would have to include potential earthquake sources over a wide region, including at least the Appalachian mountains to the southwest and the St Lawrence valley to the north and east.”

Why Iraq is the Rising Horn (Daniel 8)

Man in Iraq

The State Of Iraq – OpEd

The years of internal conflict that followed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and his regime in Iraq in 2003 have at last been succeeded by a degree of precarious stability.

Iraq is a federation of three elements held in uncertain balance – the Shia majority, the Sunni minority and the Kurds in their northern autonomous region of Kurdistan. But it also faces the aftermath of the Islamic State (IS) caliphate that dominated large areas of the country for more than three years. In addition the government has to cope with the presence of two competing power brokers lodged within their body politic – the US and Iran.

Iraq’s political parties, mirroring the balance of politico-religious power underlying the Lebanese constitution, have reached an informal agreement under which the presidency is reserved for Kurds, the premiership for Shia Arabs, and the post of speaker of parliament for Sunni Arabs. Accordingly, in October 2018 the veteran Iraqi Kurdish politician Barham Salih was elected by parliament to serve as president for the first of a maximum of two four-year terms. In line with the political agreement, Salih appointed Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shi’ite, as prime minister.

Mahdi, with a wealth of ministerial experience under his belt. is faced with a formidable agenda. The defeat on the ground of IS, the result of a united effort by government and Kurdish forces backed by support from the US and its coalition, leaves Mahdi with the task of rebuilding the infrastructure of large parts of the country.

Yet although all the territory previously part of the IS caliphate has been reclaimed, the organization’s destructive activities have not been effectively quelled. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) report for 2018 condemns IS for dozens of explosive attacks on civilian-populated areas, and the capture and extra-judicial killing of civilians.

In February, UN Secretary General António Guterres said in a report to the Security Council that IS has already “substantially evolved into a covert network… it is organizing cells at the provincial level, replicating the key leadership functions.” Despite its losses, said Guterres, it still controls between 14,000 and 18,000 militants in Iraq and Syria. Cells “appear to be planning activities that undermine government authority, create an atmosphere of lawlessness, sabotage societal reconciliation and increase the cost of reconstruction and counter-terrorism.”

These activities include kidnappings for ransom, targeted assassinations of local leaders, and attacks against state utilities and services, including setting fire to crops in bizarre imitation of Hamas’s attacks on Israeli farmers close to Gaza.

A severe humanitarian problem also faces the authorities. The newly elected US senator for Illinois, Tammy Duckworth, recently visited Iraq and found that some 30,000 widows and children of dead IS soldiers had been interned in camps in the desert, including 10,000 children under the age of 5. She was not able to discover what, if anything, was planned for them.

In a recent interview with President Salih, journalist Christian Caryl elicited a frank appraisal of the difficulties facing the nation. Salih himself pointed out that Mosul, its second-largest city, had been recaptured from IS more than a year ago, yet the city remains in ruins. Discussing the effectiveness of Iraq’s administrative machinery, the president admitted the need to fight a deeply entrenched culture of corruption in the bureaucracy, the government’s failure to provide basic public services such as water and electricity, and the challenge of preventing a full-scale IS revival.

Taking all its problems into account, however, a vital factor affecting Iraq’s current, as well as future, prospects is that it is the second–largest crude oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) after Saudi Arabia.

During the first half of 2018, Iraqi crude oil output stood at about 4.5 million barrels per day (b/d), including oil produced in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Disputes between the government and the KRG flare up from time to time, but an innovative “swap deal” with Iran involving northern crude production seems to be functioning very effectively.

Iraq abuts Iran right along its 900-mile (1450 kilometer) eastern border. Accordingly, in the far north Kurdish Iraqi crude oil is trucked to Iran, while in the far south Iran ships the equivalent volume of crude oil from its Kharg terminal to Basra. Iraq plans to double the amount swapped with Iran in this way to 60,000 b/d of crude oil.

In this, and in many other ways, Iran is intent on retaining Iraq within its sphere of influence. Washington believes Iran’s aim is to destabilize the country. US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad recently accused Iran of financing and training militia groups and promoting Islamist politicians, including followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, a prominent Shiite cleric who controls a militia known as the Mahdi Army.

Deeper analysis suggests the main motives for Iranian involvement are to push out coalition forces and Western influences; to keep Shi’ites in power, since Shia Iraq is a useful support for Iran’s much wider “Shia Crescent”; and to maintain Iraq as a federal state, minimizing Sunni influence and optimizing the Shia regions.

Iraq is slowly emerging from the trauma of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and the turmoil that followed his overthrow. There is a long road yet to travel, but there is reason for hope. Iraq may yet develop into a democratic and prosperous island of stability in a chaotic Middle East.

The Military Jenius of Donald J Trump

Image result for iran warPresident Trump has backed himself into a dangerous corner on Iran

This appeared in Saturday’s Washington Post.

President Donald Trump has recklessly navigated himself into a corner in the Persian Gulf. Though he campaigned against Middle East wars and has repeatedly said he does not want one with Iran, Trump has ordered a series of provocative actions toward the Islamic republic that, on Thursday, produced the entirely predictable images of oil tankers burning near the Strait of Hormuz – and the very real danger of escalation toward armed conflict.

Trump blames Iran for the attacks, which U.S. officials say involved attaching underwater mines to the ships; the U.S. military released video appearing to show an Iranian craft removing an unexploded mine from one of the vessels. In fervently denying responsibility, the Iranian government is taking advantage of the shattered credibility of a U.S. president who has been caught in thousands of lies. But it appears likely that Tehran was responsible for the attack and for another strike against ships in the Gulf of Oman last month; the regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has threatened just such action in the past.

Iran is responsible for aggression across the Middle East, against which the United States ought to push back. But the ship attacks were the foreseeable result of Trump’s campaign to apply “maximum pressure” on the Islamic republic without any accompanying diplomacy. After unwisely withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Tehran struck by the Obama administration, which had restrained Iran’s most dangerous threat to the United States, Trump ratcheted up sanctions – including, in April, a move to shut down Iran’s remaining oil exports.

The only peaceful avenue that Trump offered out of this economic vise was the acceptance by the Khamenei regime of a dozen U.S. dictates that would completely reverse its foreign policy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who laid out the demands, himself conceded they would not lead to any diplomatic agreement; instead, Pompeo speculated, “what can change is, the people can change the government.” Under these circumstances, it’s no surprise that Iran would respond with actions aimed at punishing the United States – such as disrupting the vital oil trade through the Persian Gulf – while avoiding the direct attacks on Americans that might provide the White House with a casus belli.

Trump sounds sincere when he says he doesn’t want a war, but he doesn’t have an easy way out of the crisis he has created. Khamenei on Thursday rejected negotiations with the United States, prompting the president, who had repeatedly said he wanted such talks, to rule them out himself on Twitter. The administration will seek to enlist European allies to join it in confronting Iran over the ship attacks, but the Europeans will inevitably be wary, given that Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and reapplied sanctions over their strong objections. Meanwhile, barring another escalation by Iran, Congress may not support U.S. military action.

The administration is talking about steps short of that, such as providing U.S. naval protection to ships transiting the gulf. But Iran will likely continue to seek ways to inflict pain on the United States and allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. If Trump genuinely wishes to avoid further escalation, he should pursue a credible diplomatic outreach to Iran, perhaps in concert with the Europeans – and he should set goals that are achievable. De- escalation by both sides would be a good start.

Preparing for War with Iran

Image result for iran warThe growing risk of armed conflict

Iran is back in the eye of the storm. Perhaps, this time Iran is more worried that a military action, long threatened by the US, may materialize. Iran is not alone in entertaining the apprehension.

Three summits held recently in Saudi Arabia and the resolutions adopted there flashed unnerving signals that the regional governments led by Saudi Arabia could take unprecedented risks to chastise Iran. These governments welcomed US sanctions on Tehran to restrain Iranian influence in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. None of the regional governments wants Iran to make progress towards nuclear weapons acquisition. This maybe fine as Iran itself has denied that it is pursuing a nuclear weapons programme. The alliance, however, also wants to isolate Iran diplomatically and bleed it economically. Iran is losing patience over denial to sell its oil. It is feared that it might embark upon some reckless action. It has demonstrated its ability to closely monitor activity on American aircraft carrier in the Gulf. Saner voices from Europe managed to sober the saber-rattling President Trump last month. He then tweeted that the US did not want a regime change in Iran. The tweet was not enough to reassure Iran of his sincerity. His penchant for high-strung statements can turn the situation ugly and dangerous, to say the least, because of latest “suspected attacks” on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and the sabotage of oil tankers in the same area and drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities earlier.

The oil supply through Strait of Hormuz is no longer safe. The US and its allies in Gulf strongly believe that Iran is behind the attacks. Such incidents may help the hawks in the US administration prevail.The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted after the attack against the tankers, calling it ” a worrying development and a dangerous escalation.” So, it may be safe to argue that a storm is gathering, not for Iran alone. Its devastation will be witnessed beyond the region. The world economy may suffer massively if the current standoff prolongs. The latest discomforting attack on oil tanks came on the heels of a visit by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Iran (June 11-12). There was an expectation that the visit would help ease the military stalemate in the region, serve as an effective medium to communicate messages from Iranian to US leadership and vice versa.

The Iranian leadership understood the stakes involved in the visit- first by a Japanese prime mister since 1978. Reuters claimed that the Iranian president pressed Abe to break with US economic sanctions on Tehran, triggered by Mr Trump’s decision to pull out of a 2015 international deal to cap Iran’s nuclear programme. The challenge for Abe was indeed formidable. He not only aspired to use his good relations with Trump to defuse the crisis but also to secure uninterrupted oil supply from Iran. De-escalation is crucial for both Japan and Iran; Japan gets oil from Iran (5 per cent of Japan’s overall oil imports) and Iran’s economy hugely depends on oil sale.

The reduction in oil production has negatively impacted the economies of net oil importing countries. Japan is not alone in seeking a negotiated solution. European countries have been most vocal in trying to keep intact the nuclear deal despite the US withdrawal

President Trump must have encouraged Abe in his peace mission during his visit last month. Media then reported President Donald Trump having welcomed Abe’s help in dealing with Iran. Trump is aware of the complications and the high risk involved in the continued tensions and was forced to offer talks. The offer failed to elicit a positive response, as Iran is not ready to enhance the scope of the 2015 agreement.

While Tokyo disagrees with the US decision to pull out of the nuclear deal, Abe indicated concerns about Iran’s destabilizing influence in the region. “It is essential that Iran plays a constructive role in building solid peace and stability in the Middle East,” he said.

No doubt, peace and stability in the Middle East is indispensable not only for this region but for global prosperity. The reduction in oil production has negatively impacted the economies of net oil importing countries. Japan is not alone in seeking a negotiated solution. European countries have been most vocal in trying to keep intact the nuclear deal despite the US withdrawal. Germany’s foreign minister has visited Tehran to prevent possible scrapping of the deal by Tehran. According to the Iranian foreign minister who visited China, Japan, India, Pakistan in April only Russia and China had helped his country keep the nuclear deal going, and accused other parties to the agreement of letting Tehran down. In fact, no one wants that Iran be given any excuse to implement its threat of abandoning any of the terms of the agreed nuclear deal. Hence the US policy towards Iran continues to unnerve the US allies. Trump has declared the deal flawed and called for talks to negotiate a new deal. To achieve this goal he has intensified the US sanctions against Iran from the start of May, ordering all countries and firms to halt imports of Iranian oil or be banished from the global financial system.

With Israel and Saudi Arabia extending full support to Trump’s Iran policy, the prospects of an unintended armed conflict cannot be brushed aside. Trump is in a quandary; he cannot afford to have Iran resume its enrichment of uranium beyond the low fissile purity allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal, nor can he force European parties to the deal abandon the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran is also not in a happy or comfortable position. Its economy is under severe strain, evoking public anger and unrest. The sense of despair gripping Iran is bound to dampen the little hope the furry of diplomatic activity generated in last three weeks. The Saudi vows to prevent oil crash by increasing oil production stand little chance to reassure the energy-starved countries. While major powers have locked horns over trade issues, the world cannot sustain another armed conflict, aggravating the agony caused by US invasion of Iraq, Libya and Syria. Diplomacy needs to be given priority both in Washington and Tehran.

The writer is a former ambassador and an adviser to the CRSS, an independent think tank in Islamabad

Who Is Really Escalating This Conflict?

Japanese ship owner contradicts U.S. account of how tanker was attacked

Middle East

What you need to know about the video the U.S. Central Command said shows Iran removing a mine from a tanker that was targeted on June 13. (REF:leej3/The Washington Post)

June 14, 2019 at 1:20 PM EDT

TOKYO — The owner of a Japanese tanker attacked in the Gulf of Oman offered a different account Friday of the nature of the attack than that provided by the United States.

Yutaka Katada, president of the Kokuka Sangyo shipping company, said the Filipino crew of the Kokuka Courageous tanker thought their vessel was hit by flying objects rather than a mine.

“The crew are saying it was hit with a flying object. They say something came flying toward them, then there was an explosion, then there was a hole in the vessel,” he told reporters. “Then some crew witnessed a second shot.”

The United States said the tanker was attacked by limpet mines and released a video that it said showed men aboard an Iranian boat removing an unexploded mine from one of the ships.

But Katada offered an alternative version of how the events unfolded.

“To put a bomb on the side is not something we are thinking,” he said. “If it’s between an explosion and a penetrating bullet, I have a feeling it is a penetrating bullet. If it was an explosion, there would be damage in different places, but this is just an assumption or a guess.”

The Kokuka Courageous, one of two ships that were hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman, is displayed during a news conference by the ship owner Kokuka Sangyo Ltd. at the company office in Tokyo on June 13. (Kyodo Kyodo/Reuters)

Trump rejects Iran’s denials that it attacked tankers, citing video released by Central Command

On Thursday, company officials said the vessel, which had been carrying methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore, was first hit by what appeared to be an artillery shell toward the stern, causing a fire in the engine room that crew members were able to extinguish.

Three hours later, the ship was again attacked on the same side in the center of the hull, at which point the captain felt it was no longer safe and ordered the crew to take to the life boats, officials said.

“When the shell hit, it was above the water surface by quite a lot,” Katada said Friday. “Because of that, there is no doubt that it wasn’t a torpedo.”

One crew member was injured and was later treated by the U.S. military, he added.

There have been two suspected attacks on five ships in the Persian Gulf in the last month. These incidents mark a serious escalation in one of the world’s most important waterways for oil. (REF:leej3/The Washington Post)

Company officials said Thursday that the ship was hit on the port side, but photos released by the United States showed damage and a suspected mine on the starboard side.

The ship’s crew saw an Iranian military vessel in the vicinity Thursday night Japan time, Katada said, according to Reuters news agency.

Declassified intelligence from the Defense Department details several tense moments when the captains of two rescue ships were surrounded by Iranian patrol boats whose captains asked for the rescued crew members to be handed over.

The last time a ‘Tanker War’ broke out in the Persian Gulf, it lasted for years

According to the account, the Hyundai Dubai oil tanker rescued the seamen of a Norwegian ship, the Front Altair, that also came under attack Thursday, but it was soon surrounded by Iranian military vessels.

The ship’s captain “felt like he had no choice but to comply with Iranian demands,” so the crew members were transferred to the Iranian vessels and taken to Iran, this account said.

The document said that after the explosion aboard the Kokuka Courageous, a Dutch ship answered its distress call and rescued the crew.

An Iranian navy ship raced to the rescue ship, even as the U.S. Navy’s guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge was nearing, and asked to take the Kokuka Courageous crew aboard “so they could transfer personnel and render assistance to the crew,” the U.S. account said.

The owner of the Japanese tanker instructed the crew not to get on the Iranian ship, so they boarded the Bainbridge instead, the Pentagon report said.

Simon Denyer

Simon Denyer is The Washington Post’s bureau chief in Tokyo, covering Japan and the Koreas. He previously worked as The Post’s bureau chief in Beijing and New Delhi; as a Reuters bureau chief in Washington, New Delhi and Islamabad; and a Reuters correspondent in Nairobi, New York and London. Follow

Carol Morello

Carol Morello is the diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, covering the State Department. She previously wrote about demographics and the census. She has worked at The Post since 2000. Before that, she was a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and USA Today. Follow