Iran says tanker sabotage meant to stir conflict

A motorist holds a fuel pump at a Gulf petrol station in London

Adding to the tensions, Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen launched drone attacks on petroleum stations outside the capital Riyadh on Tuesday.

The drone attack on Tuesday targeted the East-West Pipeline, which stretches from Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province to the Red Sea, where the Kingdom has significant export capacity.

The vital pipeline has a capacity of at least five million barrels per day.

However, two Saudi sources said the latest attack was the first time an Aramco facility was hit by drones.

Saudi Aramco, which produces and sells oil on behalf of the kingdom, the world's biggest exporter, released a statement on Tuesday saying the attacked pipeline had been temporarily shut down.

However, Al-Falih stressed that the production and exports of Saudi crude oil and products will continue "without interruption".

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The US Maritime Administration said last week that Iran could target US commercial ships including oil tankers sailing through Middle East waterways.

"These attacks prove again that it is important for us to face terrorist entities, including the Houthi militias in Yemen that are backed by Iran", Falih said in an English-language statement issued by his ministry.

Gulf officials have characterised the damage to the tankers as a sabotage.

Two editors of Iranian news outlets say Iran is claiming responsibility for the attacks on four ships anchored off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, according to MEMRI, an global media monitoring organization. The spokesman of the rebels, Mohammed Abdel-Salam, told The Associated Press: "This is a message to Saudi Arabia, stop your aggression".

Tensions have risen since Trump withdrew America from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and restored United States sanctions that have pushed Iran's economy into crisis.

Officials at the UAE port of Fujairah said on Tuesday limpet mines, explosive devices attached to the hull of a targeted vessel by magnets, appeared to damage the ships.

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President Donald Trump responded to news of the oil tanker bombings on Monday by threatening Iran with dire consequences for sabotage and terrorism.

The team of USA military experts was sent to investigate the damages at the request of the UAE, but American officials have not provided any details about what exactly happened or any proof as yet about the possible Iranian involvement in the explosions.

No link has officially been drawn between the incidents and USA accusations that Tehran was planning "imminent" attacks against U.S. interests in the region.

His comments resonate with those of the head of the Revolutionary Guard's air force Amir Ali Hajizadeh who called the move a "serious threat" and said that if the USA chose to make a move, Iran would be forced to retaliate.

A third of the world's liquefied natural gas and nearly 20 per cent of total global oil production flows through the Strait of Hormuz for export from Persian Gulf countries.

The incident comes after the United States announced it was sending an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf due to alleged threats from Iran.

China, US have ‘wisdom’ to resolve trade dispute, says senior diplomat
Trump, who has embraced protectionism as part of an "America First" agenda, said he would talk to Xi at a G20 summit in late June. In his Tuesday tweets, Trump said the "massive tariffs" now in place will pay for government bailouts for suffering farms.


On Sunday it was revealed that President Trump had increased economic pressure on Iran and was looking to cut off all its oil exports in a bid to get Tehran to curb its nuclear and missile programs.

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