UAE says 'sophisticated' tanker attacks likely the work of a state actor

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) - The United Arab Emirates told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday (June 6) that attacks on four tankers off its coast on May 12 bore the hallmarks of a "sophisticated and coordinated operation", most likely by a state actor.

In a document on the UN briefing, the UAE joined by Norway and Saudi Arabia did not say who they believed was behind the attacks and they did not mention Iran, which has been accused by the United States of being directly responsible.

The three countries said the attacks required expert navigation of fast boats and trained divers who likely placed limpet mines with a high degree of precision on the vessels under the waterline.

"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 three countries said in the document.

US national security adviser John Bolton said on May 29 that the attacks were the work of "naval mines almost certainly from Iran".

Teheran denied the accusations.

A few days earlier in May, at the Pentagon, US Rear Admiral Michael Gilday accused Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of being directly responsible for the attacks.

The May 12 attacks targeted two Saudi tankers, an Emirati vessel and a Norwegian tanker, causing no casualties.

They occurred off the UAE emirate of Fujairah, which lies just outside the Strait of Hormuz, a vital global oil and gas shipping route.

The strait separates the Gulf Arab states and Iran, which has been embroiled in an escalating war of words with the US over its sanctions and the American military's regional presence.