Fire on the oil tanker "Front Altair": The Norwegian owner Frontline said the tanker with oil products on board stood in flames. He had not sunk. (Source: Reuters)
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US blames Iran for attacks on oil tankers

June 13, 2019

WallStreetDope.Com | 6/13/2019

In the Gulf of Oman, two oil tankers have been attacked. The US accuses Iran of sabotaging the important trade route. The EU is also alarmed.

The US blames Iran for attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday at a brief press conference in Washington. “It is the USA’s assessment that the Islamic Republic is responsible for the attacks,” Pompeo said in a snap in front of cameras.

The heavy attacks have also increased tensions between Iran and its Arab arch rivals. Affected on Thursday was a managed by a German company freighter and a ship of a Norwegian shipping company. The Norwegian Maritime Authority confirmed an attack on the oil tanker “Front Altair”. The Norwegian company Frontline reported an explosion and a fire on board.

The German shipping company Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) said that even the loaded with methanol tanker “Kokuka Courageous” was damaged in the back and a crew member was slightly injured. The 21 seamen on board were picked up by a US Navy ship, as a London spokesman for the Singapore-based ship management company said. The cargo is intact, the freighter does not threaten to sink. The Japanese company Kokuka Sangyo also said its tanker “Kokuka Courageous” was affected.

The federal government was concerned. The incident was extremely disturbing, said Foreign Minister  Heiko Maas. These are events that could lead to an escalation. Sabotage acts are generally a threat to open trade routes and “currently also a threat to peace”. 

The background of the incidents not far from the coast of Iran were initially as unclear as those responsible. For weeks, tensions have been growing in the region between Sunni Saudi Arabia and its allies on the one hand and Shiite Iran on the other. The royal house in Riyadh accuses the leadership in Tehran of interfering in the internal affairs of Arab states and of destabilizing the region.

“No further tension”

A spokesman for the Iranian fleet said several teams of experts were using helicopters over the sea to investigate the incidents. The BSM spokesman could not say what exactly happened in the incident. Based on the various media reports, he started from “something hostile”. The crew left the ship for safety reasons.

The affected strait is one of the most important sea routes in the world. It connects the oil rich Gulf region with the open sea. Through the Strait of Hormuz, much of the world’s oil transportation is by ship. Crude oil prices rose significantly after the incidents.

The  EU  warned about rash reactions after the incident. “The region needs no further elements of destabilization and no further tensions,” said EU foreign policy spokeswoman Federica Mogherini in Brussels. The Norwegian Maritime Administration increased its security level for the affected area. “Because of the attacks and the unclear circumstances” advise ships under the Norwegian flag to stay away from Iranian territorial waters.

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