0544 GMT November 12, 2019
Taking to his official Twitter page on Thursday, hours after the attacks occurred, Iran's top diplomat said, “Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.”
Highlighting the fact that attacked tankers were bound for Japan, Zarif noted, “Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei_ir for extensive and friendly talks.”
Iran's foreign minister then stressed that promotion of a regional dialogue forum was necessary to deal with Wednesday’s and previous attacks on commercial ships in the Persian Gulf, in what was a clear allusion to his previous call for the formation of a such a forum for the Persian Gulf littoral states in an attempt to restore peace and stability to the region, Presstv Reported.
In an article in The Atlantic website published in October 2017, Zarif underlined the need for “meaningful” restoration of peace and stability to the Persian Gulf region, noting, “To achieve this outcome, we should be erecting a working regional mechanism rather than laying more bricks in the wall of division. We can start with a regional dialogue forum, something Iran has always been—publicly and privately—in favor of.”
US economic war behind regional tension: Zarif
Earlier on Thursday and following a meeting between Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and the visiting Japanese prime minister, Zarif said in another tweet that the US violation of the nuclear deal signed between Iran and the then P5+1 group of countries, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and imposition of economic war on Iranian people were the main reasons behind the current escalation of tension in the region.
Fruitful talks with FM @konotaromp followed by historic visit of PM @AbeShinzo. Pres. @HassanRouhani & Ayatollah @khamenei_ir held extensive, friendly & useful talks with PM Abe. Cause of tension is clear: US violation of JCPOA & imposition of economic war on Iranian people. pic.twitter.com/qPIy9aWhgF— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 13, 2019
Earlier in June, Zarif had noted that the US’s decision to deploy additional troops to the Middle East is "extremely dangerous" and threatens international peace and security.
Earlier this month, Zarif had noted that the US’s decision to deploy additional troops to the Middle East is "extremely dangerous" and threatens international peace and security.
Zarif made the remarks a day after US President Donald Trump said he was sending some 1,500 troops to the region for "mostly protective" reasons.
"Increased US presence in our region is extremely dangerous and it threatens international peace and security, and this should be addressed," the official IRNA news agency quoted Zarif as saying.
‘No vessel sank, crew safe and sound’
None of the two involved tankers -- one sailing under a Panama flag and another bearing the Marshall Islands’ ensign -- sank during the incident, said the director general of Ports and Maritime Department in the southern Iranian province of Hormozgan, Allah-Morad Afifipour, refuting earlier reports by some news outlets that one of the two tankers had sank following the attack.
"Fire has been entirely controlled in the Panama-flagged vessel, and its 21-strong crew will return to the vessel after completion of required safety operations," the Iranian ports official added.
He noted that the second tanker’s fire, however, is yet to be fully doused, rejecting reports about it having sunk and adding that its 23 crewmembers were in perfect health and transferred to Iran’s Jask port.
Foreign Ministry echoes Zarif’s suspicion
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Moussavi also expressed concern about the incident and echoed Zarif’s suspicion, reminding that the attack against the Japan-related tankers had coincided with PM Abe’s meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei.
Taking to his Twitter page, the Iranian diplomat said, "The attack flew in the face of standing regional and extra-regional efforts aimed at reducing existing tensions and contributing to peace in the region."
Like Zarif, he also voiced Tehran’s support for “cooperation and dialogue in the region.”
Iran Navy: Attacks under probe
Iran’s Navy announced in a statement later on Thursday that an investigation was underway on the circumstances surrounding the incident and its extent.
It, however, said “unverified reports” suggested that both vessels were carrying gas condensate and that the fires broke out on their decks.
Commenting on the rescue operation, the Navy said it had dispatched airborne and seaborne rescue teams to the area after it was alerted to the attacks by Hormozgan Province’s Search and Rescue Department and was able to locate the afflicted tankers.
Given the distance between the area and the country’s coast, a foreign vessel, which was nearby at the time of the incident, reached there, took in the crewmembers of the first tanker, and handed them over to Iranian relief and rescue vessels, the statement added.
The Navy said it would do its utmost in all humanitarian cases, notwithstanding the nationality of those involved, the vessels’ ownership or the nature of their cargo.
Government spokesman: Beware of region’s ill-wishers
Iranian Government spokesman has also expressed grave concern about Thursday attack on two tankers in the Sea of Oman.
Ali Rabi’ei relayed Iran’s “profound concern and regret” with regards to the attack, warning all regional countries against falling prey to machinations of those who stand to benefit from regional instability.
“The Iranian government is prepared for regional cooperation aimed at ensuring security, including in strategic waterways,” he added.