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Persian Gulf: 4 UAE oil tankers, Saudi pipeline attacked

 
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TonyGosling
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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 12:01 am    Post subject: Persian Gulf: 4 UAE oil tankers, Saudi pipeline attacked Reply with quote

Saudi oil tankers among those attacked off UAE amid Iran tensions
Rania El Gamal, Bozorgmehr Sharafedin
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-oil-tankers-fujairah/saudi-en ergy-minister-says-two-saudi-oil-tankers-attacked-near-uae-waters-idUS KCN1SJ088?il=0


DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Monday that two of its oil tankers were among those attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and described it as an attempt to undermine the security of crude supplies amid tensions between the United States and Iran.

The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels were sabotaged near Fujairah emirate, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz. It did not describe the nature of the attack or say who was behind it.

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.

The owner of the Norwegian vessel, Thome Ship Management, said the vessel was “struck by an unknown object”. Footage seen by Reuters showed a hole in the hull at the waterline with the metal torn open inwards.

RELATED COVERAGE
U.S. Energy Department says oil markets well supplied after attack on ships off UAE
Factbox: Strait of Hormuz - the world's most important oil artery
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A Reuters witness said divers were inspecting the ships. The UAE’s state news agency said Fujairah port was operating normally.

Iran, embroiled in an escalating war of words with the United States over sanctions and the U.S. military presence in the region, moved to distance itself on Monday.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry called the incidents “worrisome and dreadful” and called for an investigation.

A senior Iranian lawmaker said “saboteurs from a third country” could be behind it, after saying on Sunday the incident showed the security of Gulf states was fragile.

A U.S. official familiar with American intelligence said Iran was a leading candidate for having carried out the attacks but the United States does not have conclusive proof.

“It fits their M.O. (modus operandi),” said the official on condition of anonymity, suggesting Iran’s statements distancing itself from the incident were an attempt “to muddy the waters.”

POMPEO WARNS OF ESCALATING THREATS
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared information on “escalating” threats from Iran during meetings with EU counterparts and the head of NATO in Brussels, the U.S. special representative for Iran Brian Hook told reporters.

Hook declined to say whether he believed Iran played a role or if Pompeo blamed Iran. He said the UAE had sought U.S. help in the investigation and Washington was glad to provide this.

A damaged ANDREA VICTORY ship is seen off the Port of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, May 13, 2019. REUTERS/Satish Kumar
The U.S. Maritime Administration said in an advisory on Sunday that incidents off Fujairah, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, had not been confirmed and urged caution.

Last week the Maritime Administration said Iran could target U.S. commercial ships including oil tankers sailing through Middle East waterways.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said the UAE incident “has a negative impact on maritime transportation security” and asked regional countries to be “vigilant against destabilizing plots of foreign agents”, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

Before talks with Pompeo in Brussels, Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt warned of the risks of “a conflict happening by accident” with an unintended escalation between Washington and Tehran over an unraveling nuclear deal.

GRAPHIC-Oil tankers attacked - tmsnrt.rs/2W4yczs

CHOKEPOINT
Washington withdrew last year from a 2015 pact between Iran and global powers aimed at reining in Tehran’s nuclear plans. Since then, Washington has ratcheted up sanctions on Tehran, saying it wanted to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero.

U.S. President Donald Trump wants to force Tehran to agree a broader arms control accord and has sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf in a show of force against what U.S. officials have said are threats to U.S. troops in the region.

Trump on Monday said Iran would “suffer greatly” if it targeted U.S. interests.

Tehran has called the U.S. military presence “a target” rather than a threat and has said it will not allow its oil exports to be halted.

Slideshow (6 Images)
A fifth of global oil consumption passes through the Strait of Hormuz from Middle East crude producers to major markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond. The narrow waterway separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, designated a terrorist organization by Washington, threatened last month to close the chokepoint if Tehran was barred from using it.

Oil prices rose more than $1 a barrel on Monday but then fell with Wall Street as the negative turn in U.S.-Chinese trade talks spooked investors. Brent futures closed down 39 cents at $70.23 a barrel.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said one of the two Saudi vessels was attacked in the UAE economic zone on its way to be loaded with Saudi crude from Ras Tanura port for delivery to state-owned Aramco’s customers in the United States.

No oil was spilled but the attack did significant damage to the vessels’ structures, he said.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi stock markets suffered their biggest single-day declines in years on Monday, with Dubai falling 4%. Saudi shares lost 3.6%.

Sunni Muslim allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE have backed U.S. sanctions against Shi’ite Iran, a fellow OPEC producer but regional foe. After the United States ended sanctions waivers that had allowed some nations to continue importing Iranian crude, Washington said Riyadh and Abu Dhabi would help compensate for any oil shortage.

Falih said the attack aimed to undermine maritime freedom and the security of oil supplies.

“The international community has a joint responsibility to protect the safety of maritime navigation and 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,” he said.

Reporting by Rania El Gamal and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Additional reporting by Jonathan Saul and Robin Emmott in London; David Brunnstrom, Idrees Ali and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Saeed Azhar in Dubai and Oslo newsroom; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Edmund Blair, Mark Potter and Lisa Shumaker


Is America Ready For John Bolton's War With Iran?
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-05-11/america-ready-john-boltons-w ar-iran
Authored by Scott Ritter via The American Conservative,
National Security Advisor John Bolton’s announcement this week that the U.S. is deploying a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region seemed perfectly framed to put America on a war footing with Iran. And it is....

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Last edited by TonyGosling on Fri Jun 21, 2019 12:26 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Sabotage Attacks" On Saudi Tankers Stoke Fears Of War By "Accident" - Iran Decries Possible 'Psyop'
Mon, 05/13/2019 - 19:45
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-05-13/sabotage-attacks-saudi-tanke rs-stoke-fears-war-accident

Despite now near daily anti-Iran bluster coming out of Washington, fueling rising US-Iran tensions, and now with a major "incident" involving the reported "sabotage" attack on Saudi and UAE-docked oil tankers from an unknown perpetrator, leaders in Tehran do not see war on the horizon. Interestingly, the incident involving the Saudi tankers at the Emirates' port of Fujairah on Sunday came a mere days after the US warned that "Iran or its proxies" could attack commercial vessels in the region — though there's yet to be blame officially cast over the latest mysterious incident.

Instead, Iran does see possible desperate attempts at a Psyop in the works: “The US military forces’ deployment in the Persian Gulf is more of the nature of psychological warfare. They are not ready for a war, specially when Israel is within our range,” Iranian Parliament’s Vice-Speaker Ali Motahhari said on Sunday after a closed door session with MPs, according to FARS news agency.

But the specific mention of Israel as being "within our range" marks a significant counter-threat which could easily make war a reality, now also given the Persian Gulf region is on edge after Saudi Arabia said overnight that two of its oil tankers were attacked while headed near the Strait of Hormuz. Meanwhile the US Department of Energy says it's "monitoring the oil markets, and is confident they remain well-supplied" amid fears there are efforts to "disrupt shipping," according to Bloomberg.


Norwegian oil tanker Andrea Victory, one of the four tankers damaged in alleged "sabotage attacks." Via the AFP
The Saudis said in the aftermath of the still mysterious incident there was "significant damage to the structures of the two vessels" — identified by shipping monitors as the Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah. Other tankers were also reported damaged in the UAE's Fujairan port.

Later in the day Monday, images and footage began to appear online via Middle East news sources purporting to show damage from the "sabotage attack" of unknown origin on multiple international vessels.

Embedded video

Joyce Karam

@Joyce_Karam
Second Video from #Fujairah incident shows damage to 1/2 Saudi oil tankers Al Marzoqah. Earlier video showed Norwegian vessel damaged. 4 vessels affected near #UAE:

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And in predictable fashion, the Gulf Sunni dominated Arab League jumped in to back Saudi Arabia's use of "all measures" to safeguard their security, per the AP:

The head of the Arab League has condemned attacks that targeted vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates the previous day, including two Saudi oil tankers, as “criminal acts.”

Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said in a statement on Monday that these acts are a “serious violation of the freedom and integrity of trade and maritime transport routes.”

He says the Arab League stands by the UAE and Saudi Arabia “in all measures taken to safeguard their security and interests.”

Senior State Dept. official Brian Hook responded with "no comment" when asked if Iran was to blame for the alleged attacks on the commercial vessels near the vital Strait of Hormuz.

Hours after, President Trump weighed in by warning Iran against any "provocation" or else the country “will suffer greatly” if conflict breaks out with the US. Trump told reporters while meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House:

“We’ll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything it’ll be a very bad mistake, if they do anything.”

Though so far it appears minor, the sabotage incident could signal the start of a Gulf of Tonkin type incident in the Persian Gulf, which would ultimately force Iran into a direct confrontation with the US and its regional allies, given also the ease with which any major event which disrupts shipping — and impacting global oil markets — would immediately be blamed on Iran, and uncritically spread through global and western media.

Embedded video

EHA News
@eha_news
#BREAKING The Norwegian ship "André Victoria", which was subjected to subversive acts in the #Fujairah against four ships near the territorial waters of the #UAE, received a powerful blow that almost led her to sank, according to a video footage obtained by Russia Today

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Seeming to be well aware of such a possibility, Iran on Monday urged caution and even directly suggested the events could be false-flag provocations designed to draw regional enemies into conflict. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Monday the incidents were "alarming and regrettable," and urged that more details were needed.

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


via The Daily Mail
Last week the US deployed a carrier strike group to the region and further has a B-52 bomber group monitoring the skies over the Persian Gulf from al Udeid airbase in Qatar.

While the Iran's Revolutionary Guard has also dismissed the recent US building as “nothing but psychological warfare”, saying that “the US lacks power and does not dare to start a war against Iran,” it has also said its finger is on the trigger, ready to respond to any aggressive acts.

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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saudis Halt Oil Pipe on Attack Claimed by Iran-Backed Rebels
By Anthony Dipaola and Dana Khraiche
May 14, 2019, 11:24 AM GMT+1 Updated on May 14, 2019, 1:32 PM GMT+1
Attack raises tensions in Gulf after ships sabotaged Sunday
Aramco oil exports continue after pumping stations shut
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-14/saudi-aramco-pumpin g-stations-targeted-in-limited-attack-spa

Saudi Arabia halted its main cross-country oil pipeline temporarily after a drone attack damaged pumping stations along the link, a strike claimed by Iran-backed rebels in neighboring Yemeni. Oil prices rose.

Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil exporter, said that supplies of crude and products continued “normally without interruption,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing the energy ministry.

“These attacks prove again that it is important for us to face terrorist entities, including the Houthi militias in Yemen that are backed by Iran,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said in a statement.

The attack comes amid rising tensions in the Persian Gulf region as the U.S. increases pressure on Iran, the regional rival of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. On Monday, Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were among several vessels attacked off the U.A.E. coast near the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important chokepoint for oil shipments.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor the U.A.E. said exactly what happened to the tankers, and neither country identified potential culprits. However, the manager of one of the tankers that was hit said it suffered hole in its hull after an unknown object struck it off the U.A.E. coast.

Saudi Arabia Says Oil Tankers Attacked as Iranian Tensions Rise

The U.S. earlier this month ended exceptions to sanctions on Iranian oil sales, prompting the Islamic Republic to threaten to block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has denounced Sunday’s maritime incident and warned against attempts to destabilize the region.

The recent attacks are acts of “terrorism and sabotage” that target not only Saudi Arabia but also “the security of world oil supplies and the global economy,” Al-Falih said.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen said earlier on Tuesday that they had targeted key Saudi installations using seven drones, according to the rebel-controlled Saba news agency. No injuries or fatalities were reported in the attack, according to an emailed statement from Saudi Aramco.

Rebel Attacks
One of the pumping stations that was hit was about 700 kilometers (435 miles) from the Yemeni border. Houthi forces possess unmanned aerial vehicles that can reach targets as far as 1,500 kilometers away, according to a UN report issued in January.

The state producer officially known as Saudi Arabian Oil Co. halted the pipeline transporting oil from eastern fields to the port of Yanbu on the western coast as a precautionary, temporary measure after armed drones attacked two pumping stations, igniting a fire that caused minor damage to one, according to SPA.

The East-West pipeline spans 1,200 kilometers from Dhahran on Saudi Arabia’s Gulf coast to Yanbu on the Red Sea, allowing oil shipments from the kingdom to bypass the Strait of Hormuz. The pipeline can transport 5 million barrels a day across the country for use in its own refineries and for export from the port of Yanbu. Aramco is working to expand the pipeline’s capacity to 6.5 million barrels of crude a day by 2023, according to a bond prospectus.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Inquiry into oil tanker attacks stops short of blaming Iran
UN security council hears unidentified state was behind explosions in Gulf last month
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/07/uae-tanker-attacks-un-ir an-norway-saudi-arabia

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

Fri 7 Jun 2019 12.12 BST First published on Fri 7 Jun 2019 09.12 BST

An unidentified state actor has been blamed for attacks on four oil tankers in the Gulf last month, according to an inconclusive inquiry that stopped short of explicitly pointing the finger at Iran.

The UAE along with Saudi Arabia and Norway presented the preliminary findings during a private briefing to members of the UN security council, which will also receive the final results of the inquiry and consider a possible response.

The US has accused Iran of almost certainly being behind the attacks on the four oil tankers off the Emirati coast, but the brief report, while providing evidence of the sophistication of the attack, goes nowhere near identifying the culprit. Nonetheless, Saudi Arabia today alsoblamed Tehran, its arch rival.

The UAE may be waiting to see whether other intelligence agencies can provide evidence that Iran directed surrogate groups, or possibly Houthi rebels, to carry out the attack.

The four vessels – two Saudi-flagged, a Norwegian-flagged and an Emirati-flagged – were damaged by explosions in UAE territorial waters, off the port of Fujairah.

The UAE is convinced Iran was behind the attacks and that they were designed to send a clear message to the US and the Gulf states about its capacity to wreak havoc on oil shipping, including through the Strait of Hormuz.

Part of the damaged Saudi-owned oil tanker Amjad off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE
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Part of the damaged Saudi-owned oil tanker Amjad off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE. Photograph: Handout/AP
Iran is battling the effects of US sanctions, including on its ability to export oil, the lifeblood of its economy.

The initial findings showed it was “highly likely” that four limpet mines, which are magnetically attached to a ship’s hull under the waterline, were used in the attacks. The report said they had been placed by trained divers deployed from fast boats. The mines were placed soon after the ships were anchored.

The UAE believes the attacks required high-level intelligence in order to identify the four oil tankers as targets, one of which – a Saudi ship – was at the opposite end of the anchorage area at Fujairah from the three other tankers.

The report also said that detailed knowledge of the ships’ designs was required to detonate the mines without sinking the tankers. The mines were sequenced to explode within an hour of each other.

Despite the ambiguous findings, Saudi Arabia continued to blame its arch-enemy, Iran. Tehran has denied involvement.

“We believe the responsibility for this attack lies on the shoulders of Iran,” Saudi Arabia’s UN ambassador, Abdallah al-Mouallimi, said after the briefing. Saudi Arabia maintains that the attacks affect the safety of international navigation and the security of world oil supplies, requiring a response from the security council.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov, said after the closed-door briefing that no evidence had been presented linking Iran to the attacks. “We shouldn’t jump to conclusions,” Safronkov said. “This investigation will be continued.”

Tehran reacted coolly to the findings, saying the UAE was determined to blame it as part of an effort to escalate the situation and press the US into a war with Iran.

In an attempt to calm tensions the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is due to visit Tehran next week as a mediator between the US and Iran. The German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, is also due to visit Tehran before Abe’s trip.

Germany remains a signatory to the nuclear deal signed in 2015 from which Donald Trump withdrew in May 2018.

Trump then pursued a policy of strong economic sanctions against Iran but he has dialled down his bellicose rhetoric in the last week, waiting to see if any of the mediators can find a basis for setting up direct talks between him and Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president. Iran will demand the lifting of economic sanctions as a precondition of talks.

On Friday Tehran again ruled out extending the nuclear deal to cover Iran’s ballistic missile programme, something the French president, Emmanuel Macron, suggested should be addressed this week.

France, Germany and the UK have stood by the nuclear deal but have largely failed to find a financial mechanism that protects European companies from the threat of US sanctions if they trade with Tehran. Iran’s oil exports have plummeted and there is a lively debate in Tehran on whether it is tenable to hold out against talks.

Iran is due to show reporters around its heavy water reactor in an attempt to show the implications of the measures it is taking to increase the level of enriched uranium. In response to the US economic pressure, Tehran says it is taking steps to extricate itself from the deal, with the next steps on uranium enrichment due in 30 days.

Germany and Japan are certain to urge Iran to hold back from taking any steps that could be interpreted as abandoning the deal.

Speaking at a conference in Bratislava, Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s foreign affairs minister, said the Iran nuclear deal had not delivered “a peaceful and normal Iran”.

He said: “We are faced with escalation in the region and bellicose rhetoric from Iran, which continues to foster and use sectarianism as a means to insert itself into the Arab world.”

The Iran deal, he said, “did not tackle this dangerous ballistic missile programme or Iran’s regional policies, which include interference in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and support for proxy forces including the terrorist group Hezbollah”.

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