US military releases images of Japanese tanker damage, unexploded limpet mine

The US says the images point to Iran's responsibility for the attacks

The US military has release new images of the damage on one of two tankers attacked last week, which it says shows the Islamic Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from Kokuka Courageous, the damaged Japanese tanker.

The photos, taken from a US Navy helicopter, also show the extent of the damage done to the tanker. The US has said that Iran is responsible for the attacks, and has claimed that these images, and a low resolution video, demonstrate Iran's involvement. Six oil and chemical tankers have been attacked recently in the Gulf of Oman, and two oil pumps along a major Saudi pipeline were attacked by explosive-laden drones. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the latter attack.

The proximity to the Strait of Hormuz is important to note, given that one fifth of the world's oil passes through this strategic location.

Following rocket attacks on an Iraqi military base hosting US troops, the US government announced that it would send 1,000 more troops to the Middle East.

Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who authorised the additional troops, tweeted that "The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces & their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel & interests across the region.

"The United States does not seek conflict with Iran. The action today is being taken to ensure the safety & welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region & to protect our national interests."

This follows the full reinstatment of US sanctions against Iran, and a recent threat by Iran to exceed the limit on enriching uranium agreed upon in the nuclear deal.

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