The U.S. military on Friday released a video it said shows Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting the Islamic Republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene. Iran denies being involved, accusing the U.S. instead of waging an “Iranophobic campaign” against it.

The U.S. Navy rushed to assist the stricken vessels in the Gulf of Oman, off the coast of Iran, including one that was set ablaze Thursday by an explosion.

The ships’ operators offered no immediate explanation on who or what caused the damage against the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous. Each was loaded with petroleum products, and the Front Altair burned for hours, sending up a column of thick, black smoke.

This June 13, 2019 false-color image from the European Commission's Sentinel-2 satellite that was processed by Sinergise's Sentinel Hub website shows the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair ablaze with smoke rising from it in the Gulf of Oman after what the U.S. described as a limpet mine attack by Iran. Iran has denied being involved in the incident. The white light in the image is the sun being reflected off the waters of the Gulf of Oman. (European Commission via AP)
This June 13, 2019 false-color image from the European Commission’s Sentinel-2 satellite that was processed by Sinergise’s Sentinel Hub website shows the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair ablaze with smoke rising from it in the Gulf of Oman after what the U.S. described as a limpet mine attack by Iran. (European Commission via AP)

While Iran has denied being involved in the attack, Tehran previously used mines against oil tankers in 1987 and 1988 in the “Tanker War,” when the U.S. Navy escorted ships through the region.

The black-and-white footage, as well as still photographs released by the U.S. military’s Central Command on Friday, appeared to show the limpet mine on the Kokuka Courageous.

A Revolutionary Guard patrol boat pulled alongside the ship and removed the mine, Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said.

This June 13, 2019, image released by the U.S. military's Central Command, shows damage and a suspected mine on the Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman near the coast of Iran. The U.S. military on Friday, June 14, 2019, released a video it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting the Islamic Republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene. (U.S. Central Command via AP)
This June 13, 2019, image released by the U.S. military’s Central Command, shows damage and a suspected mine on the Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman near the coast of Iran. The U.S. military on Friday, June 14, 2019, released a video it said showed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting the Islamic Republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene. (U.S. Central Command via AP)

“The U.S. and the international community stand ready to defend our interests, including the freedom of navigation,” Urban said. “The United States has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. However, we will defend our interests.”

Iran earlier denied involvement via a statement from its mission to the United Nations.

“The U.S. economic war and terrorism against the Iranian people as well as its massive military presence in the region have been and continue to be the main sources of insecurity and instability in the wider Persian Gulf region and the most significant threat to its peace and security,” the statement said.

This June 13, 2019 false-color image from the European Commission's Sentinel-2 satellite that was processed by Sinergise's Sentinel Hub website shows the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair, bottom right, ablaze with smoke rising from it in the Gulf of Oman after what the U.S. described as a limpet mine attack by Iran. Iran has denied being involved in the incident. The land mass to the left is the United Arab Emirates and Oman on the Arabian Peninsula. The land mass in the upper right hand corner is Iran. (European Commission via AP)
This June 13, 2019 false-color image from the European Commission’s Sentinel-2 satellite that was processed by Sinergise’s Sentinel Hub website shows the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair, bottom right, ablaze with smoke rising from it in the Gulf of Oman after what the U.S. described as a limpet mine attack by Iran. (European Commission via AP)

Meanwhile in Tokyo, the owner of the Kokuka Courageous said its sailors saw “flying objects” before the attack, suggesting it wasn’t damaged by mines. Company president Yutaka Katada offered no evidence for his claim, which contradicts the U.S. military account.

Katada also said crew members saw an Iranian naval ship nearby, but did not specify whether this was before or after the attacks.

The suspected attacks occurred at dawn Thursday about 40 kilometers (25 miles) off the southern coast of Iran. The Front Altair, loaded with the flammable hydrocarbon mixture naphtha from the United Arab Emirates, radioed for help as it caught fire. A short time later, the Kokuka Courageous, loaded with methanol from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, also called for help.

In this June 13, 2019, photo released by the U.S. Navy, sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge render aid to the crew of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers suspected to have been attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. military on Friday, June 14, 2019, released a video it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting the Islamic Republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Waite, U.S. Navy via AP)
In this June 13, 2019, photo released by the U.S. Navy, sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge render aid to the crew of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers suspected to have been attacked in the Gulf of Oman. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Waite, U.S. Navy via AP)

The U.S. Navy sent a destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, to assist, said Cmdr. Joshua Frey, a 5th Fleet spokesman. He described the ships as being hit in a “reported attack,” without elaborating.

Thursday’s attack resembled that of an attack in May targeting four oil tankers off the nearby Emirati port of Fujairah. U.S. officials similarly accused Iran of targeting the ships with limpet mines, which are magnetic and attach to the hulls of a ship. The mines disable, but don’t sink, a vessel.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists on Thursday that the U.S. assessment of Iran’s involvement was based in part on intelligence, as well as the expertise needed for the operation. It was also based on recent incidents in the region, which the U.S. also blamed on Iran, including the use of limpet mines in the Fujairah attack, he said. He also tied Iran to a drone attack by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on a crucial Saudi oil pipeline around the same time.

In this June 13, 2019, photo released by the U.S. Navy, sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge render aid to the crew of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers suspected to have been attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. military on Friday, June 14, 2019, released a video it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting the Islamic Republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Waite, U.S. Navy via AP)
In this June 13, 2019, photo released by the U.S. Navy, sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge render aid to the crew of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers suspected to have been attacked in the Gulf of Oman.  (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Waite, U.S. Navy via AP)

“Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran,” Pompeo said. He didn’t elaborate and took no questions.

Iran denied being involved in the attacks last month and its foreign minister questioned the timing of Thursday’s incidents, given that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran.

Pompeo noted that Abe had asked Iran to enter into talks with Washington but Tehran “rejected” the overture.

An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP Photo/ISNA)
An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP Photo/ISNA)

“The supreme leader’s government then insulted Japan by attacking a Japanese-owned oil tanker just outside Iranian waters, threatening the lives of the entire crew, creating a maritime emergency,” Pompeo added.

At the United Nations, the Security Council held closed consultations on the tanker incidents late Thursday at the request of the United States but took no action.

Tensions have escalated in the Mideast as Iran appears poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, an accord that President Donald Trump repudiated last year. In the deal, Tehran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of crippling sanctions. Now, Iran is threatening to resume enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels if European nations don’t offer it new terms to the deal by July 7.

In this photo dated Thursday June 13, 2019, made available by the Norwegian shipowner Frontline, showing the crude oil tanker Front Altair after the fire aboard was extinguished onboard the Norwegian ship in the Gulf of Oman.  The U.S. Navy rushed to assist the stricken vessels in the Gulf of Oman, off the coast of Iran, as two oil tankers came under suspected attack amid heightened tension between Iran and the U.S. (Frontline via AP)
In this photo dated Thursday June 13, 2019, made available by the Norwegian shipowner Frontline, showing the crude oil tanker Front Altair after the fire aboard was extinguished onboard the Norwegian ship in the Gulf of Oman. (Frontline via AP)

Already, Iran says it quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium. Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions have cut off opportunities for Iran to trade its excess uranium and heavy water abroad, putting Tehran on course to violate terms of the nuclear deal regardless.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia said early Friday its military intercepted five drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeting the kingdom, including the Abha regional airport. The kingdom said a similar attack Wednesday on the Abha airport wounded 26 people.

An Iranian navy boat sprays water to extinguish a fire on an oil tanker in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz came under a suspected attack Thursday, setting one of them ablaze in the latest mysterious assault targeting vessels in a region crucial to global energy supplies amid heightened tension between Iran and the U.S. (AP Photo/Tasnim News Agency)
An Iranian navy boat sprays water to extinguish a fire on an oil tanker in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz came under a suspected attack Thursday, setting one of them ablaze in the latest mysterious assault targeting vessels in a region crucial to global energy supplies amid heightened tension between Iran and the U.S. (AP Photo/Tasnim News Agency)
In this photo dated Thursday June 13, 2019, made available by the Norwegian shipowner Frontline, showing the crude oil tanker Front Altair seen through glass observation window as water cannon operate during the firefighting of the fire onboard the Norwegian ship in the Gulf of Oman.  The U.S. Navy rushed to assist the stricken vessels in the Gulf of Oman, off the coast of Iran, as two oil tankers came under suspected attack amid heightened tension between Iran and the U.S. (Frontline via AP)
In this photo dated Thursday June 13, 2019, made available by the Norwegian shipowner Frontline, showing the crude oil tanker Front Altair seen through glass observation window as water cannon operate during the firefighting of the fire onboard the Norwegian ship in the Gulf of Oman. (Frontline via AP)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo closes his remarks as he departs after a media availability, at the State Department, Thursday, June 13, 2019, in Washington. Pompeo says Iran is believed to be responsible for attacks on 2 tankers near Persian Gulf. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo closes his remarks as he departs after a media availability, at the State Department, Thursday, June 13, 2019, in Washington. Pompeo says Iran is believed to be responsible for attacks on 2 tankers near Persian Gulf. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP Photo/ISNA)
An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP Photo/ISNA)
In this photo released by state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz have been reportedly attacked. The alleged assault on Thursday left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels. The U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (IRIB News Agency via AP)
In this photo released by state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz have been reportedly attacked. The alleged assault on Thursday left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels. The U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (IRIB News Agency via AP)
Map locates recent attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz; 2c x 3 1/4 inches; 96.3 mm x 82 mm;
Map locates recent attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz; 2c x 3 1/4 inches; 96.3 mm x 82 mm;
In this June 13, 2019, photo released by the U.S. Navy, sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge render aid to the crew of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers suspected to have been attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. military on Friday, June 14, 2019, released a video it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting the Islamic Republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Waite, U.S. Navy via AP)
In this June 13, 2019, photo released by the U.S. Navy, sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge render aid to the crew of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers suspected to have been attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. military on Friday, June 14, 2019, released a video it said showed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting the Islamic Republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Waite, U.S. Navy via AP)
The U.S. military on Friday released a video it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting the Islamic Republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene. (June 14)
The U.S. military on Friday released a video it said showed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting the Islamic Republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene. (June 14)
Two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz were damaged in suspected attacks on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the US Navy rushed to assist. (June 13)
Two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz were damaged in suspected attacks on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the US Navy rushed to assist. (June 13)