Fujairah (UAE): Saudi Arabia said on Mon-day two of its oil tankers were damaged in mysterious “sabotage attacks” in the Gulf as tensions soar-ed in a region already sha-ken by a standoff between the United States and Iran.
It came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrapped a planned visit to Moscow to head to Bru-ssels instead for talks with EU officials on Iran.
Tehran called for an investigation into the “alarming” attacks and warned of “adventurism” by foreign players to disrupt maritime security.
Britain warned of the danger of conflict erupting “by accident” in the Gulf. The US has already strengthened its military presence in the region, including deploying a number of strategic B-52 bombers in response to alleged Iranian threats.
Saudi Arabia, the Isla-mic republic’s regional arch-rival, condemned “the acts of sabotage which targeted commercial and civilian vessels near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates”, a foreign ministry source said.
“This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation and adversely impacts regional and international peace and security,” the source added.
The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels of various nationalities were targeted by acts of sabotage off the emirate of Fujairah.
Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said the two tankers suffered “significant damage” but there were no casualties or oil spill. Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE gave details on the nature of the attacks.
The UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the Emirates will probe the “deliberate sabotage” of the ships.
“The investigation will be conducted in a professional manner, the facts will be made clear, and we have our own readings and conclusions,” he tweeted.
Fujairah port is the only Emirati terminal located on the Arabian Sea coast, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, through which most Gulf oil exports pass. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of a military confrontation with the US.
One of the two tankers that was attacked was on its way to be loaded with crude oil from a Saudi terminal for customers in the US, Falih said. Oil prices rose on world markets on Monday with benchmark Brent North Sea crude up 1.8 per cent at $71.90 a barrel in London....