Saudi oil tankers hit by 'sabotage attacks'

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Later in the day, Saudi Arabia's energy minister said two of its oil tankers were among the ships that the United Arab Emirates earlier said were damaged off its coast.

Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said two of its oil tankers were the target of a "sabotage attack" off the coast of Fujairah.

The UAE on Monday identified the vessels as two crude oil tankers owned by Saudi shipping firm Bahri, a UAE-flagged fuel bunker barge and a Norwegian-registered oil products tanker.

On Sunday, the UAE foreign ministry said four commercial vessels were targeted by "sabotage operations" near the territorial waters of the Emirates without causing casualties.

Saudi Arabia has disclosed some details about a United Arab Emirates statement on Sunday, May 12 saying that four ships were damaged by "sabotage" off its coast, near Fujairah.

"This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation and adversely impacts regional and worldwide peace and security", the source added. Oil exports flowed also during the first Gulf War in 1990-91. It said there were no casualties and operations at Fujairah port were normal.

An oil tanker approaches the new jetty, during the launch of the new $650 million oil facility in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, on September 21, 2016.

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the head of Iran's parliamentary national security committee, fired back on Monday by suggesting "saboteurs from a third country" were responsible, implying the ships were attacked by American agents seeking to create an excuse for military action against Iran.

Tensions have risen since President Donald Trump withdrew America from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and restored us sanctions that have pushed Iran's economy into crisis.

In additional comments Monday, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the "acts of sabotage" and expressed solidarity with the UAE, the Saudi Press Agency reported, citing an official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Outages in Venezuela, Iran and some "supply disturbances" related to pipeline outages in Nigeria and contamination in Russian oil are holding the physical market "in a tight grip", Schieldrop said.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of a military confrontation with the United States.

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump warned Monday that Iran would "suffer greatly" were it to "do anything", amid USA intelligence indications that Tehran was planning to attack United States interests in the region.

Spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said on Monday that the security of regional shipping and maritime transport was of great importance and called the developments "alarming and regrettable".

Fujairah's port is located about 140 kilometers from the Strait of Hormuz, and the port offers a wide range of requirements such as general and bulk cargo including Oil. Iran has said it would not allow its oil exports to be halted.

"These irresponsible acts only adds to the tension and conflict in the region and jeopardize the interests of their peoples".

Also, the Pentagon had moved the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike force, B-52 bombers and other ships to the region last week to bulk up the forces already there, saying they were a "clear and unmistakable" signal to Iran.

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