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Iran says oil tanker struck by missiles off Saudi Arabian coast | - News

Iran says oil tanker struck by missiles off Saudi Arabian coast | - News

Two missiles struck an Iranian tanker traveling through the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia on Friday, Iranian officials said, the latest incident in the region amid months of heightened tensions between Tehran and the U.S.Iranian officials said two missiles struck an tanker travelling through the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia, and state media reported the stricken tanker as the Sabiti. (National Iranian Oil Tanker Company via WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters)Two missiles struck an Iranian tanker traveling through the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia on Friday, Iranian officials said, the latest incident in the region amid months of heightened tensions between Tehran and the U.S. There was no word from Saudi Arabia on the reported attack and Saudi officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Oil prices spiked by two per cent on the news.Iranian state television said the explosion damaged two storerooms aboard the unnamed oil tanker and caused an oil leak into the Red Sea near the Saudi port city of Jeddah. The leak was later stopped, IRNA reported. The state-run news agency, quoting Iran’s National Iranian Tanker Co., identified the stricken vessel as the Sabiti. It turned on its tracking devices late Friday morning in the Red Sea, putting its location some 130 kilometres southwest of Jeddah, according to data from MarineTraffic.com. The ship is carrying some one million barrels of crude oil, according to an analysis from data firm Refinitiv. Images released by Iran’s Petroleum Ministry appeared to show no visible damage to the Sabiti visible from its bridge, though they did not show the ship’s sides. The ministry’s SHANA news agency said no ship nor any authority in the area responded to its distress messages. The Sabiti last turned on its tracking devices in August near the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas, according to data from MarineTraffic.com. Iranian tankers routinely turn off their trackers as U.S. sanctions target the sale of Iran’s crude oil. “The oil tanker … sustained damages to the body when it was hit by missiles 96 kilometres from the Saudi port city of Jeddah,” IRNA said. The agency did not say whom Iranian officials suspect of launching the missiles. Lt. Pete Pagano, a spokesperson for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet overseeing the Mideast, said authorities there were “aware of reports of this incident,” but declined to comment further. Benchmark Brent crude oil rose over two per cent in trading Friday to reach some $60.40 US a barrel. The reported attack comes after the U.S. has alleged that in past months Iran attacked oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, something denied by Tehran. Friday’s incident could push tensions between Iran and the U.S. even higher, more than a year after U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions now crushing Iran’s economy. “This latest incident, if confirmed to be an act of aggression is highly likely to be part of the wider narrative of deteriorating relations between Saudi and the U.S. and Iran,” private maritime security firm Dryad Maritime warned. “It is likely that the region, have being stable for the last month, will face another period of increasing maritime threats, as the Iranian and Saudi geopolitical stand-off continues,” it added. The mysterious attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone and other incidents across the wider Middle East followed Trump’s decision. The latest assault saw Saudi Arabia’s vital oil industry come under a drone-and-cruise-missile attack, halving the kingdom’s output. The U.S. has blamed Iran for the attack, something denied by Tehran. Yemen’s Houthi rebels, whom the kingdom is fighting in a yearslong war, claimed that assault, though analysts say the missiles used in the attack wouldn’t have the range to reach the sites from Yemen.

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