RAS AL KHAIMAH, UAE - U.S. allegations that Iran was behind the attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday have come under fire.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quick to point the finger at Iran within hours of the attack, saying the U.S. assessment was based on intelligence.
"It is the assessment of the United States that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks," the secretary told a news conference in Washington.
"This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication."
Saudi Arabia was quick to back up Mr Pompeo's assessment. "We have no reason to disagree with the secretary of state. We agree with him," Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told CNN. "Iran has a history of doing this," he added.
Later the U.S. Central Command released a video which it says showed an Iranian Navy vessel removing an unexploded mine from one of the stricken ships. Officials said the mine's removal was evidence of Iran's involvement.
In Tokyo on Friday however, the president of the Japanese shipping company that owns one of the ships, the Kokuka Courageous, denied that a mine was used in the tattack.
President of Kokuka Sangyo Marine, Yutaka Katada, said he believed there was "no possibility of mine attack" stating the attack was "well above the naval line."
Mr Katada said he had not seen the video released by the U.S. military. He said a member of his ship's crew had reported seeing a 'flying shell.'
Iran has also angrily denied involvement in the attacks.
The country's foreign ministry spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi described the attacks as "worrying and alarming."
"Apparently, accusing Iran in the suspicious and unfortunate incident involving the tankers is the most convenient and simplistic thing to do for Mr. Pompeo and other American statesmen," Mousavi said Friday.
"While Japan's prime minister is meeting with the number one figure of the Islamic Republic of Iran to reduce tensions, which clandestine hands seek to undermine these efforts in the region and who benefit from it?" he asked.
The spokesman pointed out that Iran was the first country to come to the aid of the ships and had rescued the crews.
"The responsibility for ensuring the security of the Strait of Hormuz is shouldered by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and we have proven that we have been able to help the sailors of the crashed ships and rescue them as quickly as possible," Mousavi said.
"The suspicious nature of incidents for oil tankers is not a joke, it is worrying and alarming."
UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said an independent investigation was needed to discover who carried out the attacks. "We believe that the truth needs to be clearly established," he said.
"Responsibilities need to be clearly defined. The world cannot afford a major confrontation in the Gulf."