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Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Norway At UN Blame ‘State Actor’ For May 12 Tanker Attacks

The Andrea Victory, a Norwegian oil tanker, was damaged during an attack off the U.A.E. coast on May 12.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Norway have told the UN Security Council that the recent attack on four oil tankers off the U.A.E. coast was a “sophisticated and coordinated” operation most likely conducted by a “state actor.”

The comments -- included in documents related to the June 6 briefing -- did not mention Iran, but the Saudis and the U.A.E., along with the United States, a close ally to the two Persian Gulf states, have accused Tehran or its “agents” for carrying out the May 12 attack.

Two Saudi oil tankers and a Norwegian ship were damaged in what Saudi officials called an “act of sabotage.” The fourth vessel was an Emirati-flagged tanker. No injuries were reported.

The attacks took place off the coast of the U.A.E. emirate of Fujairah, just outside the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping route for global oil and gas supplies.

The three countries said in the UN document that the attacks required expert navigation of fast boats and precision divers to plant mines beneath the waterline on the vessels.

"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 document said.

They believe it was the work of several teams of operatives, which coordinated the timed detonation of all four explosive charges within less than an hour.

"We believe the responsibility for this attack lies on the shoulders of Iran," Saudi Arabia's UN ambassador, Abdallah al-Mouallimi, told reporters after the briefing.

However, Russian Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told reporters that no evidence was presented in the briefing linking Iran to the attacks.

"We shouldn't jump to conclusions. This investigation will be continued," he said.

On May 30, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that Iran attacked the oil tankers in an effort to push global crude prices higher.

“These were efforts by the Iranians to raise the price of crude oil throughout the world," Pompeo told reporters.

A day earlier, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said the attacks were the work of "naval mines almost certainly from Iran."

Tehran has denied any involvement, labeling the accusations “ridiculous” and calling out what it called Washington’s “malign intentions” in the region.

A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry suggested the attack on the tankers might have been carried out as part of a conspiracy to provoke a conflict and “disrupt regional security.”

Amid the rising tensions, Washington in May announced the deployment of an aircraft carrier battle group and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf to counter what U.S. officials called "clear indications" of threats from Iran to U.S. interests or its allies.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, Al Jazeera, and The Washington Post