In a major shift, Germany has acknowledged Iran’s involvement in the last week’s attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that their was “strong evidence” that Tehran was responsible for the attacks on the tankers.

Last Thursday, a Norwegian-owned and a Japanese-owned oil tanker were attacked in the Strait of Hormuz shipping lane. A mine had struck the Japanese vessel, while the Norwegian one had been set on fire. The US Navy came to the rescue, evacuating the crew of the damaged tankers.

Chancellor Merkel’s comments are in response to the video footage released by the United States showing an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from the damaged Japanese tanker.

While Tehran denies involvement, the head of country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a designated terrorist group, repeated his threats to vessels in the international waters. “[Iranian] missiles can hit with great precision carriers in the sea,” IRGC chief Hossein Salami boasted on Tuesday.

German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported Chancellor Merkel’s statement:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday there is “strong evidence” Iran was behind the twin tanker attacks near the strategic Strait of Hormuz. (…)

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Merkel called for a peaceful solution to tensions in the Persian Gulf.

“We take these acts very seriously, there is strong evidence,” she said, referring to the US allegations that Iran was behind the attacks on the two tankers.

“It is a very serious situation,” she said, adding that Germany would tell all sides and especially Iran, “that the situation should not escalate.”

German admission signals a shift in the European stance. EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, has been telling European countries ‘not to jump to conclusions’ about Iran’s involvement. Earlier this week, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas questioned the U.S. intelligence saying that so far the evidence was only coming “from one side in particular.”

With Chancellor Merkel’s latest statement, German government now agrees with the U.S. assessment that Iran was behind the tanker attacks on the high seas. Berlin has been Iran’s biggest backer in the West since Washington pulled the Obama-era nuclear deal last May.

Despite Chancellor Merkel’s admission, little may change on the ground with regards to Germany’s support for the Iranian regime. Berlin is still working on a ‘special purpose vehicle’ to protect Iranian oil trade from U.S. sanctions. The EU-backed payment system will be devised to hide the Iranian money trail and protect European companies from prosecution under the U.S. law. Trump administration has called it a mechanism for laundering money and financing Islamic terrorism.

With the economy failing in wake of the stiff U.S. sanctions, Iran has set a July 7 deadline for the Europeans to deliver on the financial benefits promised under the Obama-era deal. Last week, German Foreign Minister Maas rushed to Tehran to appease the angry Mullahs. “Heiko Maas spearheads effort to reassure Iran’s leaders of economic payoff for sticking to agreement,” The Wall Street Journal noted.

Tehran received billions of dollar under the Obama administration for signing the 2015 deal. Those massive reserves seem to have dried up in the subsequent Trump years.

Video: ‘Pentagon releases new photos allegedly showing Iran trying to destroy evidence of tanker attack’

[Cover image via YouTube]


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