UAE Says 3 Western Countries Part of Probe into Attack on Ships


Khalid al-Falih said on Tuesday that two oil pumping stations for the East-West pipeline had been hit in what he called "an act of terrorism" that targeted global oil supplies.

The state-run oil giant Saudi Aramco temporarily shut down the pipeline to evaluate its condition and was working to restore operations, while a fire which broke out at one of the pump stations has since been contained, according to Falih.

A UAE government official said the Saudi oil tankers Al-Marzoqah and Amjad were attacked off the emirate of Fujairah along with the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory and an Emirati ship, the A Michel. He said this reaffirms the need of the worldwide community to confront the activities of groups like the Houthis.

Brent crude futures rose 83 cents to $71.45 a barrel, a 1.2 percent gain, by 10:38 a.m. EDT (1438 GMT).

In a press statement carried by the news agency on Monday, Nemati said: "We believe that Israeli cunning stands behind this incident".

Saudi Arabia said earlier that two of its oil tankers were among those attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, incidents which ratcheted up tensions in the world's top oil exporting region.

Following the United States withdrawal from the nuclear deal, its imposing of harsh sanctions on Tehran, and deploying the U.S. aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf region, the Islamic Republic has been isolated financially, militarily, and diplomatically.

There are several parallels between this attack and Sunday's "sabotage" of four ships near Fujairah on the UAE's east coast. The official said each ship sustained a 5- to 10-foot hole at or below the water line. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation, agreed to reveal the findings only if not quoted by name.

Saudi Arabia built its pipeline in the 1980s amid fears that the Iran-Iraq war would cut off shipping traffic through the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. President Donald Trump wants to force Tehran to agree a broader arms control accord and has sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf in a show of force against what U.S. officials have said are threats to U.S. troops in the region.

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Yadlin says that Iran's difficulties with the United States have escalated and "Iran's attempt to establish and build advanced military capabilities in Syria with Israel was a stinging failure", leaving them with far fewer options.

The USS Abraham Lincoln is replacing another carrier rotated out of the Gulf last month. Emirati officials had requested a team of US military investigators aid them in their probe.

He "warned against plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security" and "called for the vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements", a statement said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared information on what he called escalating threats from Iran during meetings with European Union counterparts and the head of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Brussels on Monday, the U.S. special representative for Iran Brian Hook said.

It set a 60-day deadline for Europe to offer it a better deal before it would begin enriching uranium to higher levels that the West fears could allow it to obtain atomic bombs.

The oil tankers were visible in satellite images provided Tuesday to the AP by Colorado-based Maxar Technologies. The other three showed no visible major damage from above. And Iran looks like it's being backed into a corner. The U.S. supported the coalition for years despite its airstrikes killing civilians, and is only recently beginning to step back after the October killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents.

The incident has increased tensions between Iran, which borders the nearby Strait of Hormuz, and the US.

Speaking to CNBC in an interview to be broadcast on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the USA deployments came in response to intelligence about potential Iranian attacks and aimed both to deter them and to be able to respond if necessary.

The Houthis have repeatedly launched drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and claimed to have launched drone attacks on the UAE.