Tue, May 14, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Saudi Arabia says two oil tankers attacked as Iran tensions intensify


Saudi Arabia yesterday said that two of its oil tankers were attacked while sailing toward the Persian Gulf, adding to regional tensions as the US increases pressure on Iran.

The tankers were damaged in “a sabotage attack” off the United Arab Emirates (UAE) coast on Sunday, state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The vessels were approaching the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important chokepoint for oil shipments.

The Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday reported an attack on four commercial ships. No one has claimed responsibility.

Two of the targeted tankers were registered in Saudi Arabia, one was flagged in the UAE and the other in Norway, an Emirati government official said.

The precise nature of the incident remained unclear — neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE said exactly what happened or identified potential culprits.

The US last week deployed an aircraft carrier, bomber planes and missiles to the region amid worsening friction with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.

Saudi Arabian Minister of Energy and Industry Khalid al-Falih said the incident aims “to undermine the freedom of maritime navigation and the security of oil supplies to consumers all over the world,” according to SPA.

He urged the international community to ensure the security of oil tankers “to mitigate against the adverse consequences of such incidents on energy markets, and the danger they pose to the global economy.”

Antagonism between the US and Iran intensified this month after US President Donald Trump ended exceptions to US sanctions on Iranian oil sales. The Islamic republic has threatened to block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if the US halts Iranian energy exports and to scale back its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Abbas Mousavi described the maritime incident as “concerning and regrettable,” and called for efforts to shed light on what exactly happened, the semi-official Tasnim News reported.

He warned against “foreign seditious plots to upset the region’s security and stability.”

The Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it is investigating the tanker incident with local and international parties.

No one was hurt, and no fuel or chemicals were spilled, the state-run Emirates News Agency quoted the ministry as saying.

The targeted vessels were the Amjad, al Marzoqah, A. Michel and Andrea Victory, the Emirati government official said.

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