Iraq’s military said on Friday that an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf about 28 miles off of Iraq’s coast was evacuated after a mine was discovered that was attached to the ship. The statement said Iraqi explosive experts were working to disarm the mine.
The mine was discovered on Thursday afternoon while the ship was refueling another vessel. The Iraqi statement said the mine was attached to a tanker that was rented from Iraq’s Oil Marketing Company SOMO.
The statement came a day after two private security firms said a limpet mine was discovered on the hull of a Liberian-flagged ship near Iraq. Limpet mines are a type of explosive that can be attached to a vessel’s hull.
The discovery of the mine comes at a time of heightened tensions in the region between the US and Iran. The US has been escalating tensions in the region by deploying long-range bombers and submarines near Iran’s coast.
With the incoming Biden administration expected to return to diplomacy with the Islamic Republic, Iran has been cautious not to provoke the US in the final days of Trump’s presidency.
Planting a mine at this sensitive time would be of no interest to Iran, but the US has a history of blaming Tehran for similar incidents. In 2019, the US blamed Iran for explosions allegedly caused by limpet mines that damaged two oil tankers in the region, an accusation that was never proven.