Iraq says it has dismantled a mine on a tanker in the Persian Gulf

An aerial photo shows oil tankers loading crude oil at Iraq's Al Basra terminal off Basra.
An aerial photo shows oil tankers load crude oil at Iraq’s Al Basra offshore terminal on Dec. 27.
(Nabil al Jurani / Associated Press)

Iraq’s military on Saturday said explosives experts with its naval forces successfully dismantled a mine that was discovered stuck to an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf.

The statement said Iraqi authorities have opened an investigation into the incident. No group has claimed responsibility for placing the mine.

The announcement came a day after Iraq confirmed reports by private security firms that a mine had been discovered attached to the side of a tanker rented from Iraq’s Oil Marketing Co., known as SOMO, as it was refueling another vessel. It said that Iraqi teams were working to dismantle the mine.


Iraq has not provided further details, but the two private security firms said the discovery was likely a limpet mine on the MT Pola, a Liberian-flagged tanker.

A limpet mine is a type of naval mine that attaches to the side of a ship, usually by a diver-member of special forces. When it explodes, it can significantly damage a vessel.

The discovery came amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. in the final days of President Trump’s administration.

Already, the U.S. has conducted B-52 bomber flyovers and sent a nuclear submarine into the Persian Gulf over what Trump officials describe as the possibility of an Iranian attack on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani and a top Iraqi militia leader.

Iraq is marking the anniversary with a series of events this week, including a Saturday night ceremony at Baghdad’s airport, where the drone strike killed the two men last Jan. 3.