After oil tankers damaged, Trump warns Iran

Daniel Fowler
May 14, 2019

The announcement by the kingdom's energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, came as the USA issued a new warning to sailors and the U.A.E.'s regional allies condemned the reported sabotage Sunday of four ships off the coast of the port city of Fujairah.

A Norwegian-flagged vessel, two Saudi oil tankers and a bunkering tanker flagged in Sharjah, one of the UAE's seven emirates, all suffered similar damage Sunday.

The owner of the Norwegian vessel, Thome Ship Management, said the vessel was "struck by an unknown object".

The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels of various nationalities had been targeted by acts of sabotage off the emirate of Fujairah.

The United States and Iran are at risk of stumbling into war by accident, the foreign secretary warned yesterday after the sabotage of four oil tankers in the Gulf.

Saudi Ships were set to be loaded with Saudi crude and then sent to Aramco's customers in the United States.

Saudi Arabia said 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 Saudi vessels were identified as the VLCC tanker Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah, both owned by Bahri.

Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al Falih said the attack was meant to undermine "the security of oil supplies to consumers all over the world". He urged the worldwide 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".

If perpetrators did sabotage the vessels, the attackers could - apart from being from Iran - be linked to piracy groups or terrorist organizations like al Qaeda.

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'Iran or its proxies could respond by targeting commercial vessels, including oil tankers, or us military vessels in the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, or the Persian Gulf'.

The foreign ministry called the incidents "worrisome and dreadful" and asked for an investigation into the matter. The UAE foreign ministry also dismissed as "baseless and unfounded" reports about U.S. and French warplanes flying over Fujairah during the time of these tanker blasts.

In response to this act of sabotage of a major tanker refuelling hub, the head of the Iranian parliament's national security committee tweeted that the incident illustrated the extent to which the southern Persian Gulf's security has recently become fragile.

Zarif also said during the same visit to NY in April that Iran could only sell 500,000 to 700,000 bpd of oil.

As Iran begins the process of separating itself from the nuclear deal in response to USA sanctions, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif arrived in Delhi Monday night to explain Tehran's point of view to the Indian leadership.

He "warned against plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security" and "called for the vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements", it added.

The Islamic Republic has threatened to block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz and has said it may increase uranium enrichment beyond limits allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal that Trump abandoned.

Lebanon's pro-Iran satellite channel Al-Mayadeen, quoting "Gulf sources", on Sunday falsely reported that a series of explosions had struck Fujairah's port.

Tensions have risen in the oil-rich region in recent weeks amid the deployment of a growing number of United States military assets to the Middle East due to deteriorating relations with Iran.

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