RNA - Zarif, in a tweet today, rebuffed Pompeo's allegations, saying they were part of the “sabotage diplomacy” pushed by the "B-Team".
The B-Team is a reference to hawkish US national security adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
In a follow-up Twitter post, Zarif said, “I warned of exactly this scenario a few months ago, not because I'm clairvoyant, but because I recognize where the #B_Team is coming from.”
In another tweet on Thursday, Zarif said the attack on two tankers in the Sea of Oman amid a landmark visit by the Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo to Iran was suspicious, calling for the promotion of dialogue among regional countries.
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.
Pomeo said immediately after the incident on Thursday, “It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today.”
A maritime official of Iran said on Friday that the recent fire incidents in 2 oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman seem to be mere accidents caused by technical issues, adding that the results of early investigations show that the collision with an external object is just an unproved speculation.
In the first vessel, the fire broke out in the middle dock of the tanker and in the second vessel it happened in the engine room of the tanker and there is no proof that an external object has hit these 2 giant oil carriers, said Allah Morad Afifipour, General Director of Hormuzgan Province’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO), Tasnim news agency reported.
The local authority added that with the current collected pieces of evidence the two incidents seem to be mere incidents and there is nothing to prove that they have hit an external object or been attacked.
He added that both vessels are on international waters under flags from two countries, adding that it necessitates the flag owners to announce the cause of the incidents.
On Thursday, Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabi'e strongly voiced concern about the explosions occurred in the two Japan-related oil tankers in the Sea of Oman, cautioning the regional states not to become entangled in the "deception trap" flattened by countries which benefit from instability in the region.
"All regional states should be careful not to be entrapped by deception of those who benefit from instability in the region," Rabi'e added.
"The Iranian government is ready for security and regional cooperation to guarantee security, including in the strategic waterways," he added.
All crew members of the two oil tankers which were hit in the Sea of Oman were saved by Iranian rescue teams on Thursday.
According to Fars News Agancy, Iranian rescue vessels have picked up the 23 crew members of one of the tankers and 21 of the other from the sea and brought them to safety at Iran’s Jask, in the Southern Hormozgan Province, an informed source said on Thursday.
Earlier, media reports said explosions had occurred on the two oil tankers, apparently as a result of attacks.
Details about the incidents are still sketchy, but the ships are known to have sent distress signals to nearby ports and vessels.
While the US Navy claimed it had been assisting the tankers, the Iranian rescue vessel was first to reach them and rescue the crew, who had plunged into and were floating on the sea to avoid the fire.
The MT Front Altair had been loaded at a port in the Gulf of Oman with a petroleum product known as naphtha, and was on its way to the Far East. Its crew of 23 is safe after being evacuated by the nearby Hyundai Dubai vessel.
Front Altair was loaded from Qatar with the flag of Marshal Islands and Kokuka Courageous was loaded from Saudi Arabia with a Panama flag.
Meanwhile, BSM Ship Management says its crew of 21 aboard the Kokuka Courageous carrying methanol has also been rescued in the Gulf of Oman by a nearby Iranian vessel after what it described as an “incident on board which resulted in damage to the ship’s hull starboard side”.
The Arabic-language al-Mayadeen reported that Front Altair oil tankers was fully drowned in the Sea of Oman after the incident.
Japan's Trade Ministry said that the two oil tankers were reportedly attacked near the Strait of Hormuz which is located between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman carried "Japan-related cargo".
Meantime, an informed source in the Iranian Armed Forces said that Iranian Army sent several vessels and helicopters along with rescue teams to the damaged oil tankers upon their request for help.
After the incident, Brent oil crude jumped as much as 4.5% and was trading at $61.80 a barrel at 11:51 a.m. in Dubai. Stocks in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi were all down more than 1%.