Saudi Arabia, UAE and Norway Say ‘State Actor’ Likely Attacked Oil Tankers

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Norway have told the UN Security Council that the recent attack on four oil tankers off the UAE coast was a “sophisticated and coordinated” operation most likely conducted by a “state actor,” according to reports.

The three countries presented their initial findings to the U.N. Security Council in an informal meeting Thursday to discuss what they see as a threat to international commercial navigation and the security of global energy supplies.

The joint statement said limpet mines, a type of naval mine that attaches to a ship with magnets, were used in the May 12 coordinated attacks “which left large holes in the hulls of the four tankers, but did not cause more extensive damage or oil spills.”

H.E. Mr. Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations

H.E. Mr. Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations

“It appears most likely that the mines were placed on the vessels by divers deployed from fast boats,” the statement said, according to VOA News. “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.”

Though the report does not directly accuse Iran, Saudi Arabian U.N. Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi said there was a “preponderance of evidence” pointing in one direction. “We believe that the responsibility for this action lies on the shoulders of Iran,” al-Mouallimi told a small group of reporters, according to VOA. “We have no hesitation in making this statement, we believe there is enough evidence to demonstrate that.”

But Russian representatives hinted at skepticism of blaming Iran this early in the investigation, according to RFERL.org.  Russian Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told reporters that no evidence was presented in the briefing linking Iran to the attacks and “[w]e shouldn’t jump to conclusions. This investigation will be continued,” he said.