UAE claims four vessels targeted by 'sabotage operations'

UAE claims four vessels targeted by 'sabotage operations'

The tankers were damaged in "a sabotage attack" off the United Arab Emirates coast on Sunday, state-run Saudi Press Agency reported. The vessels were approaching the Strait of Hormuz, the world's most important oil transport route.

His report comes just days after the Trump administration issued a new maritime alert - warning of "acts of sabotage" to ships off the UAE coast as tensions continue to rise between the United States and Iran.

In response to the threat, the Pentagon has dispatched naval reinforcements to the Persian Gulf, including an aircraft carrier, a Patriot missile battery and a squadron of B-52 bombers, prompting warnings from Iran that it was prepared to retaliate if it comes under attack.

"The worldwide community should carry out its responsibilities to prevent any parties trying to harm maritime security and safety, which would be considered a threat to global safety and security", it added.

It came as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrapped a planned visit to Moscow to head to Brussels instead for talks with European officials on Iran.

It also comes as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrapped a visit to Moscow and chose to travel to Brussels to discuss Iran with French, British and German officials.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Monday expressed "regret" for the sabotage of commercial vessels and asked for more details "on the exact extent of of this incident". He warned against "foreign seditious plots to upset the region's security and stability".

On Monday, U.S. benchmark crude oil added 78 cents to $62.44 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Hedge funds cut their bullish wagers on USA crude oil to the lowest level in a month and raised their bets on Brent crude to the highest in almost seven months, US government data showed on Friday.

Although the real reason behind the incident has not been revealed yet, the early reports, citing eyewitnesses, further suggested that American and French warplanes have been seen flying over the port at the time of the incident. The UEA said: "the concerned authorities have taken all necessary measures, and are investigating the incident in cooperation with local and global bodies".

They say no one was hurt and no chemicals or fuel were spilled from the ships. One of the two vessels was on its way to be loaded with Saudi crude oil from the port of Ras Tanura, to be delivered to customers in the U.S., state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

War drums are sounding a bit louder this morning as news comes that supposedly a pair of oil tankers was "sabotaged" in the Persian Gulf according to Saudi Arabia. Iran has said it would not allow its oil exports to be halted.

A Japanese tanker, the M. Star, was damaged in a bomb attack in 2010 when it was docked about 14 miles (22 kilometers) off the U.A.E. coast near the port of Fujairah.

The Strait of Hormuz connects the Gulf to the Indian Ocean.

In an escalation of the cold war being fought by the White House and Tehran, the USA also warned ships in the region that they risk attack from "Iran or its proxies".

Sunni Muslim allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE have strongly backed US sanctions against fellow OPEC producer and regional foe Shi'ite Iran.

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