D.MAIL-Iranian oil tanker 'is hit by two MISSILES' in 'terrorist' attack off of Saudi Arabia that caused explosion and heavy damage
Iranian oil tanker ‘is hit by two MISSILES’ in ‘terrorist’ attack off of Saudi Arabia that caused explosion and heavy damage
- Iranian supertanker Sabiti rocked by two explosions in the Red Sea near Jeddah
- Iran said vessel was hit by two missiles in what experts called a ‘terrorist attack’
- It comes after a series of attacks on Saudi oil tankers which were blamed on Iran
- Iran has not yet said who it believes was responsible for Friday’s attack
An Iranian oil tanker has been hit by two explosions off the coast of Saudi Arabia.
Tehran said a supertanker called Sabiti, owned by The National Iran Oil Company, was struck by two missiles 60 miles from the port of Jeddah around 5am Friday.
The explosions badly damaged two tanks on board the vessel, causing it to leak into the Red Sea.
‘Experts believe it was a terrorist attack,’ a source told Iranian news agency ISNA.
The blast comes amid heightened tensions across the Middle East which have seen a series of attacks against tankers belonging to Saudi Arabia and its allies. Friday’s explosion marks the first time an Iranian tanker has been hit.
It also comes after Saudi oil facilities were blown up in a drone and missile attack which Riyadh blamed on Iran. Saudi Arabia considered a military response to the strike, but has taken no official action.
Iranian supertanker Sabiti (pictured today) was hit by two explosions around 60 miles from the Saudi Port of Jeddah on Friday, as officials said it was hit by two missiles
The National Iran Oil Company, which owns the vessel, said the missiles had damaged the two main storage tanks on board the ship, causing them to leak into the ocean
The ship remained afloat after the attack and tacking data shows it has turned around and is heading back towards the Persian Gulf
The tanker is carrying 1million barrels of oil, and until Friday had not transmitted its location for 57 days. Iranian tankers often turn their trackers off to skirt US sanctions on exports
Iranian media said the blasts occurred around 5am and 5.20am local time
The Nour news agency, which is close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, said the crew of the Sabiti was safe and had got the leak under control.
The state-owned National Iranian Tanker Company said that contrary to reports, ‘there is no fire aboard the ship and the ship is completely stable’.
There was no word from Saudi Arabia on the reported attack and Saudi officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Lt. Pete Pagano, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet which is currently positioned near Iran, said authorities there were ‘aware of reports of this incident,’ but declined to comment further.
Iran has not said who it believes was responsible for the attack on the Sabiti.
Russia’s foreign ministry has also said it is too early to assign blame for the attack.
Before Friday the Sabiti had not activated its transmitter for 57 days, when it was in the port of Bandar Abbas, but it suddenly began broadcasting its location again shortly after the blasts were reported.
Data shows the tanker is fully laden with 1million barrels of oil and is now heading back to the Persian Gulf with a destination of Larak, an island in the Strait of Hormuz.
It is unclear what the tanker’s initial destination was. Iranian vessels often turn off their trackers to avoid US sanctions on oil exports.
Oil prices surged more than two per cent after the attack, with Brent surging 2.3 percent to $60.46, while West Texas Intermediate jumped 2.1 percent to $54.69.
Prices had already been rising on growing hopes for a breakthrough in the China-US trade talks.
It comes months after a series of attacks on tankers belonging to Saudi Arabia and its allies which were blamed on Iran.
In May four tankers – two belonging to Saudi Arabia, one to Norway and one to the UAE – were struck by explosions near the UAE in the Gulf of Oman.
An investigation by the UAE, America and France concluded that holes in the vessels were likely caused by explosive charges placed near the waterline.
The Iranian tanker was hit following months of tensions around the Arabian Peninsula which has seen attacks on tankers, drones and oil facilities
Friday’s attack comes after a series of blasts targeting oil tankers belonging to Saudi Arabia and its allies, including on two vessels owned by Japan and Norway in June (pictured)
America has blamed for the attacks, releasing this image which Washington says shows the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers
The US said Iran was responsible for the attacks, though may not have directly carried them out.
That was followed by more attacks in June on two tankers, this time owned by Japan and Norway, in the same stretch of water.
America again accused Iran of being behind the attacks, saying an unexploded limpet mine was found on the side of one of the vessels.
The US also released footage which it claimed showed boats belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps returning to one of the ships after the blast to remove and unexploded mine.
The attacks led to spiralling tensions around the Gulf which saw Tehran shoot down an American Navy drone, which in turn almost led to the US bombing Iran.
President Trump ordered strikes against several IRGC bases, but called them off at the final moment.
Tensions rose further last month when a Saudi refinery – the world’s largest – and oil field were hit by drones and missiles, which the kingdom said were fired by Iran
The explosions shut down 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of production – more than 5 per cent of global oil supply.
In May another four vessels were hit by explosions in the Gulf of Oman, in an attack that was also blamed on Iran. Pictured is the Norwegian Andrea Victory with a hole in its stern
Yemen’s Houthi group claimed responsibility for the attacks, but a U.S. official said they originated from southwestern Iran. Riyadh blamed Tehran.
Iran, which supports the Houthis in Yemen’s war, has denied any involvement.
Instability in the region was sparked when Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal, signed under Barack Obama.
The deal – which was also backed by European powers including Russia -had promised the regime economic benefits in return for curtailing its nuclear programme in a way that would stop it developing weapons.
Trump tore up the deal last year by reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to stop complying with the deal by accelerating its enrichment of uranium and rebuilding stockpiles.
The President has said he wants to negotiate a new deal with Tehran, but Iran has refused to enter fresh talks, urging the US to return to the terms of the original deal.
While European countries have tried to establish economic measures to skirt the American sanctions, these have been largely ineffective.
On September 14 Saudi Arabia’s largest oil refinery at Abqaiq was hit by explosive-laden drones that Riyadh said came from Iran
Saudi Arabia said it was considering a military response against Iran following the refinery attack, though no official action has yet been taken