Ships sabotaged as Iran warns it is ready to fight

Ships sabotaged as Iran warns it is ready to fight

Ships sabotaged as Iran warns it is ready to fight

Tensions have risen in the year since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, restoring American sanctions that have pushed Iran's economy into crisis.

Thome Ship Management also said that Norwegian-registered product tanker MT Andrea Victory was "struck by an unknown object on the waterline" that caused a hole in the hull.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said that the two Saudi oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of Fujairah.

Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister subsequently confirmed the event, as he revealed that two Saudi oil tankers had been attacked early Sunday morning, at 6:00 AM, and suffered "significant damage". An investigation was launched in coordination with worldwide authorities, it said, calling on global powers to prevent any parties trying to harm maritime safety and security.

The Saudi minister added in the statement that it is the worldwide community's responsibility to protect maritime navigation and the security of oil tankers.

The Gulf Cooperation Council - which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE - condemned the alleged attack in a statement, calling it a "serious escalation".

"This is a unsafe escalation representing evil intentions by those that planned and executed this operation", GCC secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani said in a statement.

On Sunday, the United Arab Emirates said that four commercial vessels of various nationalities had been targeted by acts of sabotage off the UAE port of Fujairah. It said it was investigating "in co-operation with local and worldwide bodies" and that there were "no injuries or fatalities on board the vessels" and "no spillage of harmful chemicals or fuel".

United States officials declined to comment on the alleged incident.

Oil prices rose on Monday, with Brent crude futures at $71.71 a barrel by 0912 GMT, up $1.09. It lost 3 cents to $61.66 on Friday.

The trade turmoil has prompted hedge funds to cut their bullish wagers on USA crude oil to the lowest level in a month and raised their bets on Brent crude to the highest in almost seven months, United States government data showed on Friday. State and semi-official media in Iran picked up the reports, citing Al-Mayadeen, which later published the names of vessels it claimed were involved in the incident.

Therefore, Abu Dhabi officials are deeply concerned that large-scale explosions at the port of Fujairah have exposed the security gaps in the port to the public, and there is a possibility that Yemeni groups, in response to the numerous Emirati aggressions, will target Fujairah in the future, as they have previously targeted Abu Dhabi.

"The explosions of Fujairah showed that the security of the south of the Persian Gulf is like glass", Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, head of parliament's national security committee, wrote on his Twitter account. The facility handles oil for bunkering and shipping, as well as general and bulk cargo. Its strategical location serves as shipping routes for the Gulf countries, the Indian and Africa.

Iran, which is embroiled in an escalating war of words with the United States over sanctions and the US military's presence in the region, moved to distance itself on Monday. Oil had been losing ground since late last month on signs that Saudi Arabia would pump more to make up for lost Iranian barrels and a looming trade war between the world's two largest economies, the USA and China.

The ministry statement also denied any incident had taken place inside the port.

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