Saudi Arabia blames Iran for tanker attacks

Crown prince calls for ‘decisive stand’ from international community, but says kingdom does not want war

A photograph  from the Iranian news agency Tasnim on June 13th reportedly shows an Iranian navy boat trying to control fire on  the Norwegian-owned tanker Front Altair. Photograph: Tasnim News/AFP/Getty Images

A photograph from the Iranian news agency Tasnim on June 13th reportedly shows an Iranian navy boat trying to control fire on the Norwegian-owned tanker Front Altair. Photograph: Tasnim News/AFP/Getty Images

 

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and called on the international community to take a “decisive stand”. However, it said the kingdom does not want a war.

Attacks on two oil tankers on Thursday, which the United States also blamed on Iran, have raised fears of broader confrontation in the region. Iran has denied any role in the strikes south of the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping route and major transit route for oil.

“The Iranian regime did not respect the Japanese prime minister’s visit to Tehran and while he was there replied to his efforts by attacking two tankers, one of which was Japanese,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was quoted as saying in an interview with the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

“The kingdom does not want a war in the region but it will not hesitate to deal with any threats to its people, its sovereignty or its vital interests,” he said.

The explosions that damaged the Norwegian-owned Front Altair and the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous occurred while Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran trying to help ease rising tensions between the US and Iran.

Tehran and Washington have both said they have no interest in a war. However, this has done little to assuage concerns that the arch foes could stumble into conflict.

Iran has denied any role in the attacks on the tankers south of the Strait of Hormuz, a major transit route for oil from Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, and other Gulf producers.

Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said there must be “a rapid and decisive response to the threat” to energy supplies, market stability and consumer confidence, his ministry said on Twitter.

Explosions

The US military released a video on Thursday that it said showed Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were behind the explosions that damaged the Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous.

“Iran did do it, and you know they did it because you saw the boat,” US president Donald Trump told Fox News on Friday.

However, other nations have urged caution. Germany said the video released by the US military was not enough to prove Iran’s role, while UN secretary general Antonio Guterres called for an independent investigation to determine responsibility. China and the EU have also called for restraint.

The US has tightened sanctions on Iran since Washington withdrew from a 2015 nuclear pact between Tehran and global powers last year. Washington’s stated aim is to drive Iranian oil exports, the mainstay of its economy, to zero.

Tehran has said that if its oil exports are halted it could block the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow channel of water separating Iran and Oman through which passes a fifth of the oil consumed globally. – (Reuters)