Germany Joins Chorus Casting Doubt on Trump Administration Claim That Iran was Behind Attack on Oil Tankers

Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday cast doubt on evidence that the U.S. government claims is proof that Iran was behind an attack this week on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

The attack on the two vessels, one Japanese and one Norwegian, took place as Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting Iran to try to calm tensions between Tehran and Washington.

iran us gulf attack oil
A picture obtained by AFP from the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency on June 13 reportedly shows fire and smoke billowing from Norwegian-owned Front Altair tanker said to have been attacked in the waters of the Gulf of Oman, less than 100 miles from the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. has officially blamed Iran for the attacks, producing what was purported to be evidence amid Iranian denials. IRANIAN STUDENTS' NEWS AGENCY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The U.S. Navy later released a video that purported to show members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard sneaking over to the ship in the middle of the night to remove an unexploded mine. U.S. officials claimed this is evidence of Iran's culpability, but Maas argued that the video was insufficient proof to pin the attack on Iran.

"The video is not enough. We can understand what is being shown, sure, but to make a final assessment, this is not enough for me," Maas told reporters during a press conference on Friday. The boat's Japanese owner also cast doubt on the theory that a mine had been used to attack the ship, telling journalists that members of his crew had witnessed a flying object.

Iran has denied any role in the event, and some observers have raised questions about whether the intelligence was being used as a pretext for the U.S. to escalate conflict with the country.

"Whether it's an attempt to remove Venezuela's democratic government or regime change in Iran, the USA is causing global instability in furtherance of its imperial interests. We must reject the lies being used by the Trump admin to gain public support for their disastrous plans," Chris Williamson, a member of the British parliament with the UK's Labour Party, said in a statement.

The Conservative-led government in the UK, however, released an official statement saying that it is "almost certain" that Iran's military carried out the attack.

A second U.S. ally, France, was less committal. While the French Foreign Ministry condemned the attack, it refrained from saying whether its government had assessed the U.S. intelligence or any other evidence.

Meanwhile, European Union officials called for "maximum restraint."

"We are gathering more information and we are assessing the situation," a spokeswoman for the EU's foreign service told reporters.

On Friday, President Donald Trump called the morning television show Fox & Friends and claimed unequivocally that Iran was behind the attack.

"Iran did do it. And you know they did it because you saw the boat. I guess one of the mines didn't explode and it's probably got essentially Iran written all over it," Trump said during the early morning interview. "You saw the boat at night trying to take the mine off unsuccessfully. Took the mine off the boat. And that was exposed. That was their boat. That was them. And they didn't want the evidence left behind. I guess they didn't know that we have things that can detect in the dark that work very well."