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Germany: 'Strong evidence' Iran behind attacks

June 18, 2019

Chancellor Angela Merkel has said there is "strong evidence" Iran carried out attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. She also warned Iran of consequences if it violated the 2015 international nuclear deal.

An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/ISNA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday there is "strong evidence" Iran was behind the twin tanker attacks near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The United States has accused Iran of attacking the Japanese and Norwegian flagged tankers and released video and pictures purporting to show a Revolutionary Guard boat removing an unexploded limpet mine.

Read more: Iran-US tensions flare in the Persian Gulf: What's at stake

The EU said yesterday the video was not enough to blame Iran, while German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany was still evaluating the evidence before coming to any conclusions. 

US releases video of mine being removed from tanker

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."

Iran has denied it was behind last week's twin tanker attacks and a similar attack on four vessels of the coast of the United Arab Emirates last month. Iran said the video and still images released by the United States proved nothing.

Map of the tanker attacks

Merkel warns of consequences if Iran breaks nuclear deal 

The tensions between the United States and Iran have spiked since President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran that have hit oil exports and sent its economy into freefall.

On Monday, Iran warned that it would soon surpass the amount of enriched uranium allowed under the international deal, ratcheting up pressure on European signatories to save the accord. Iran's atomic energy agency also raised the prospect of increasing enrichment levels beyond the 3.67% level allowed under the deal for peaceful purposes.

Read more: Germany fights to salvage Iran nuclear deal as deadline looms 

Tehran wants Europe to ensure it receives the economic benefits promised under the nuclear deal despite US sanctions. So far, a European payment vehicle, INSTEX, to allow Iran to trade for humanitarian goods has not been implemented.

Merkel warned Iran of consequence if it violated any part of the nuclear accord, but appeared optimistic Tehran would abide by its commitments.

"We anticipate that Iran will continue to uphold the deal. When that isn't the case, there will naturally be consequences," she said.

cw/aw (dpa, Reuters)

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