Monday, 27 May, 2019

Jordan condemns attack on Saudi stations, voices 'absolute support'

Saudi Arabia said its tankers were targeted in a Saudi Arabia said its tankers were targeted in a"sabotage attack Credit JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER AFP Getty Images
Patty Aguilar | 15 May, 2019, 07:33

Meanwhile, Spain has recalled a frigate that was deployed alongside a USA aircraft carrier because of the rising tensions in the region.

The ships - including two Saudi oil tankers, an Emirati ship and the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory - were docked in the sea off the coast of Fujairah, the official added. It said there were "no injuries or fatalities on board the vessels" and "no spillage of harmful chemicals or fuel".

Asked whether the United States believed Iran played a role, Brian Hook, the USA special envoy for Iran, declined to comment, saying only that U.S. authorities would be assisting the investigation at the request of the UAE which has called the incidents "deliberate sabotage".

The crew was unharmed and the ship was in no danger of sinking, it said.

Saudi Arabia on Monday said two Saudi oil tankers were among vessels attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Earlier on Tuesday, Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed that they had targeted several vital Saudi targets with drones.

Who's behind the suspected attacks?

The official said the investigation into Sunday's incident was launched with the support of the Western experts.

The UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the Emirates will probe the "deliberate sabotage".

A USA official said Iran was the likely culprit, but Iranian officials denied responsibility for the incident.

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US President Donald Trump wants to force Tehran to agree to 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 US officials have said are threats to US troops in the region.

The military buildup, announced earlier in May, came as the United States tightened sanctions it reinstated on Tehran after exiting the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hit back, saying the Islamic republic was "too great to be intimidated by anyone".

The pipeline incident comes on the heels of rising tensions in the Gulf, where the United Arab Emirates announced on Sunday that four vessels had been exposed to undisclosed "sabotage". According to Arab news outlets, Iran has deployed its ballistic missiles, some of them openly to the Americans intelligence sensors, as part of this show of power.

The attack caused fire and minor damage to one of the pumping stations, Falih said.

That same day, British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said that he was concerned the us and Iran could start a conflict by "accident". The previous day, he said Iran will "suffer greatly" if they threaten U.S. interests in the Middle East.

"We need to do a thorough investigation to understand what happened, why it happened, and then come up with reasonable responses short of war", Ambassador John Abizaid told reporters in the Saudi capital Riyadh in remarks published on Tuesday. Still, instead of going after a larger, closer and more vulnerable target, such as a refinery or oil storage tank, the choice of this pipeline is presumably meant to send a message. The ministry's spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as warning against any "conspiracy orchestrated by ill-wishers" and "adventurism by foreigners" to undermine the maritime region's stability and security.

Iran has rejected the allegation and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that "extremist individuals" in the US government were pursuing unsafe policies, amid a war of words with Washington over sanctions. Behrouz Nemati provided no details on what role Israel may have played in the incident. This has been brewing ever since Trump, who campaigned on tearing up Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, came to office.

For a year, Iran negotiated with European signatories to the deal to find a way to allow it to continue its trading.

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