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Investigation Concludes “State Actor” Was Behind UAE Oil Tanker Attacks

An investigation carried out jointly by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Norway, has concluded that the party responsible for the attacks on four vessels off the UAE coast last month was a “state actor”, CNN reports.

While Norway and the UAE refrained from suggesting who the state actor was, Saudi Arabia was not so shy: its ambassador to the UN, Abdallah al-Mouallimi, said his country believed it was Iran that was behind the attacks.

Al-Mouallimi said there was “enough evidence” to suggest that Iran carried out the attacks that damaged four vessels, and added "if we tolerate a symbolic attack like this ... it opens the door for more."

The Saudi position chimes in with the U.S. one. In late May, a senior Pentagon official said the attacks were carried out by Iran without providing any evidence for this statement.

“The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC,” said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, as quoted by Reuters, adding that the attacks were carried out through limpet mines attached to the hulls of the vessels. The official refrained from explanations about how the mines were delivered.

Two days later, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton also blamed the attacks on Iran but modified his statement with “almost certainly”.

“I think it is clear these (tanker attacks) were naval mines almost certainly from Iran.”

“There is no doubt in anybody’s mind in Washington who is responsible for this and I think it’s important that the leadership in Iran know that we know,” the U.S. national security advisor said.   Related: The Gas Flaring Crisis In The U.S. Oil Patch

Interestingly enough, the attacks at the port of Fujairah were reported by Iranian and Lebanese media. Later, Saudi Arabia reported “sabotage” on two of its vessels, although neither Riyadh nor the UAE made any guesses about the perpetrators. Iran, for its part, condemned the attacks and called for an investigation into the event.

The attacks followed a warning issued by the United States to ships in the Persian Gulf regarding possible attacks by “Iran or its proxies” on vessels in the area. The warning came as a U.S. aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers are traveling to the Gulf in a pre-emptive response to a possible Iranian move in the region after Tehran once again said it would close the Strait of Hormuz if the U.S. tries to squeeze its oil exports further.

Iran has condemned the attacks and denied any involvement in them.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry. More

Comments

  • Lee James - 8th Jun 2019 at 12:01am:
    I've been surprised how sketchy the information is on the tanker attacks in all of the accounts that I've seen.

    Because damage to the tankers was slight, and details so slight, I'm inclined to think that Iran is "tagging" these vessels as a way of showing what can happen.

    Meanwhile, tankers seem incredibly vulnerable. And, as always, we are back to defending sea lanes because we are so dependent on oil.

    What is the total cost for oil, considering high cost of protection and delivery? I think energy is a lot more cost-effective when it is manufactured locally, or we reduce the need for oil by cutting back on frivolous or wasteful burning of the stuff.
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