TEHRAN – Iran said Saturday that an attack on one of the country's oil tankers won't go unpunished, the official IRNA news agency reported. Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said a day after two missiles struck the Iranian tanker Sabiti as it traveled through the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia that "vicious behavior in international waterways will not go without a response." Shamkhani said an Iranian committee had gleaned some information on the attack from video images from the Sabiti. Also on Saturday, Cabinet spokesman Ali Rabiei said Iran is investigating the case while "avoiding hastiness." Nobody has claimed responsibility, and the Iranian government hasn't accused anyone of carrying out the assault.
Officials say two missiles have hit tanker causing heavy damage. Images released Monday showed a pair of gaping holes in the hull of an Iranian oil tanker that Tehran says was hit by two missiles off the coast of Saudi Arabia in a mysterious attack last week that threatened to ratchet up tensions even more between the regional adversaries. Iran's Oil Ministry released photos of the Sabiti, a tanker owned by the National Iranian Oil Company, with two square-shaped apparent areas of impact just above the waterline. Iran said Friday the ship was targeted in a missile attack, a claim that has yet to be corroborated. Saudi Arabia has denied involvement in the incident, and no one has taken responsibility.
LONDON - Tensions in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway that has become a flash point between Iran and the West, intensified after Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker on Friday and briefly detained a second vessel. The seizing of the British tanker marked perhaps the most significant escalation since tensions between Iran and the West began rising in May. At that time, the U.S. announced it was dispatching an aircraft carrier and additional troops to the Middle East, citing unspecified threats posed by Iran. The showdown has caused jitters around the globe, with each maneuver bringing fear that any misunderstanding or misstep by either side could lead to war. Details of what took place Friday remained sketchy after Iran reported that it had seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in remarks published Sunday that the kingdom will not hesitate to confront threats to its security and joined the U.S. in accusing its bitter rival, Iran, of being behind the attacks on two vessels traveling near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital trade route for Arabian energy exports in Asia. The U.S. has blamed Iran for the suspected attacks on two oil tankers, denouncing what it called a campaign of "escalating tensions." The U.S. alleges Iran used limpet mines to target the tankers, pointing to black-and-white footage it captured that American officials describe as Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops removing an unexploded mine from the Japanese-operated tanker Kokuka Courageous. The Japanese tanker's crew members described "flying objects" as having targeted the vessel, seemingly contradicting the assertion that limpet mines were used. In an interview with the Arabic-language newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Prince Mohammed said Iran disrespected the visit to Tehran by the Japanese prime minister last week and responded to his diplomatic efforts to reduce regional tensions by attacking the two tankers.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - A small oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz entered Iranian waters and turned off its tracker two days ago, leading the U.S. to suspect Iran seized the vessel amid heightened tensions in the region, an American defense official said Tuesday. Iran offered no immediate comment on what happened to the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah late Saturday night, though an Emirati official acknowledged the vessel sent out no distress call. Oil tankers previously have been targeted in the wider region amid tensions between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers. The concern about the Riah comes as Iran continues its own high-pressure campaign over its nuclear program after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord over a year ago. Recently, Iran has inched its uranium production and enrichment over the limits of its 2015 nuclear deal, trying to put more pressure on Europe to offer it better terms and allow it to sell its crude oil abroad.