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Shinzo Abe’s Mission to Iran Ends in Flames



Photo of oil tanker on fire in the sea of Oman
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Iran on Wednesday for a two-day trip that was aimed at cooling tensions in the region. And then things blew up.
On Thursday, two tankers carrying petrochemicals, one of which was a Japanese-owned ship, came under suspected attack in the Gulf of Oman. The incidents compounded the already simmering hostilities in what’s possibly the world’s most pivotal maritime corridor. After the United States slapped sweeping sanctions on Iran’s energy industry, the threat of disruption flared in the Strait of Hormuz — the narrow body of water linking the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. About a third of the world’s oil tanker traffic passes through the strait, including an estimated 80 percent of Japanese oil imports.
The United States was quick to point the finger at Tehran. Late Thursday the U.S. military released a video it says shows Iranian forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from the Japanese vessel after the blast. A U.S. defense official had told my colleagues that they believed the attacks were carried out by divers using such mines.

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