Iran-backed forces seize tanker, maritime sources say; Iran denies it
- Oil tanker seized in Arabian Sea off United Arab Emirates – maritime sources
- Iranian army: accusation of hijacking paves the way for “adventurism”
- UK Maritime Trade Agency reports possible ‘hijacking’
- US investigation reports say it’s too early to pass judgment
- Tensions in the Gulf have been high since the US left the 2015 Iran nuclear deal
DUBAI / LONDON, Aug 3 (Reuters) – Iranian-backed forces have reportedly seized an oil tanker in the Gulf off the United Arab Emirates, three maritime security sources said, after the UK’s Maritime Trade Agency reported a “potential diversion” in the region on Tuesday.
Abolfazl Shekarchi, spokesperson for the Iranian armed forces, denounced reports of maritime incidents and hijackings in the Gulf region as “a kind of psychological warfare and opening the way to new accesses of adventurism,” he said. said the Fars news agency.
Two of the maritime sources identified the seized vessel as the Panama-flagged Asphalt Princess oil tanker, in an area of the Arabian Sea leading to the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for around one-fifth of global oil exports by sea. .
The US State Department said it was concerned and was investigating reports of a maritime incident in the Gulf of Oman, but it was too early to pass judgment. The British Foreign Office was “urgently investigating” an incident on a ship off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, a spokesperson said. Read more
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. military needed to reposition at least one ship in general proximity to the Asphalt Princess for closer monitoring. Officials said it was a matter of monitoring the situation rather than taking imminent military action.
Tensions simmered in the region after an attack last week on an Israeli-run tanker off the Omani coast killed two crew members and was blamed on Iran by the United States, Israel and the United States. Britain. Iran has denied any responsibility. Read more
UK Maritime Commercial Operations (UKMTO), in a warning notice based on a third-party source, had previously reported a “potential hijack” and advised vessels to exercise extreme caution due to the incident about 60 nautical miles east of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. emirate.
The Times of London newspaper also reported that the Asphalt Princess had been hijacked, citing British sources as saying they were “working on the assumption that the Iranian military or proxies had boarded the ship.” Read more
The U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet and UAE authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
Hinting at the news, the Saudi foreign minister told a US think tank in an online appearance that he saw an emboldened Iran acting negatively in the region, including endangering shipping. L1N2PA1RV
On Tuesday, at least five ships sailing between the UAE and Iran updated their AIS tracking status to “Not Under Command,” according to Refinitiv’s ship tracking data. Such a status generally indicates that a vessel is unable to maneuver due to exceptional circumstances.
Nour News, affiliated with Iran’s highest national security body, quoted a senior naval official as saying that “the movement of commercial vessels is completely normal and no official naval sources or Persian Gulf countries have reported incidents “.
Iran’s foreign ministry said reports of maritime incidents were “suspect” and warned against any effort to create a “false atmosphere” against Tehran. Read more
The United States and Britain said on Sunday they would work with their allies to respond to last week’s attack on Mercer Street, a Japanese Liberian-flagged tanker operated by Israeli company Zodiac Maritime.
Iran has denied any involvement in the alleged drone strike and said it would respond to any threats to its security.
Tensions have increased in Gulf waters and between Iran and Israel since 2018, when then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Tehran nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed sanctions that crippled its economy.
Longtime adversaries Iran and Israel have exchanged accusations of carrying out attacks on each other’s ships in recent months.
Additional reporting from the Dubai Newsroom, Elizabeth Piper in London, Arshad Mohammed, Daphne Psaledakis and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Ghaida Ghantous, Mark Heinrich, Howard Goller and Sandra Maler
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.