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Iran’s leader blames unspecified “government” for latest tanker attack

PortandTerminal.com, October 14, 2019

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said an Iranian tanker damaged in the Red Sea on Friday had been hit by at least two rockets, and there is video footage of the incident, although none has been presented.

DUBAI – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani vows to respond to an attack on one of the country’s oil tankers in the Red Sea and says evidence suggests it was the work of a government, not a terrorist group.

Iranian authorities reported that the Iranian-owned oil tanker, the Sabiti, was struck off Saudi Arabia’s coast. There has been no independent report on the cause of the damage.

Iran had initially said that the attack had come from Saudi Arabia. Certainly, the vessel was within range of the Kingdom when it was hit just off of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Iran’s claim though that Saudi Arabia was behind the attack was “walked back quite considerably” according to Bloomberg reports within about an hour of them having been made.

Map Credit: BBC

Iran has released photos of an oil tanker that it says was attacked off the coast of Saudi Arabia. The photos show two large holes in the Sabiti tanker, which Tehran says was hit twice in the Red Sea on 11 October by an unknown assailant.

The United States, UK, France and Germany have all blamed Iran for a series of attacks on ships in the Gulf of Oman this year, which it denies.

If verified, this latest attack would mark the first such attack on one of Iran’s own vessels.

Iran’s national oil company had said last week’s explosions on the vessel showed it had been attacked “likely by missiles”.

What do the images show?

The images, released by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), are dated 13 October and show two holes above the waterline.

The NITC said the attack caused oil to spill into the Red Sea.

According to reports by the BBC, Dr Sidharth Kaushal, a research fellow at the UK-based Royal United Services Institute said that the photos “probably prove” the tanker was attacked, but it was not clear what with.

Rather than illustrating damage inflicted by a rocket, Dr Kaushal said the holes appeared similar to those left after alleged limpet mine attacks attributed to Iran in June, which it denied.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed “concern” over the weekend regarding recent events in the region and called for a political solution.

Investigations into last week’s tanker attack would continue, he added.

“The fact that a country may think it can create insecurity in the region without receiving a response is a mistake,” he said.

What’s going on in the Gulf?

The latest incident came amid heightened tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia in recent months.

Last month, 18 drones and seven cruise missiles hit a major oil field and processing facility in Saudi Arabia, which blamed Iran for the attack.

US officials said Iran was responsible for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf in June and July, as well as attacks on another four tankers in May.

Iran denied involvement in all the incidents.

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