© Reuters. File photo: The Israeli-managed oil tanker Mercer Street that was attacked last week was seen near the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates on August 3, 2021. REUTERS/Rula Rouhana
Author: Lisa Barrington and Jonathan Thor
DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters)-Three maritime security sources said that Iranian-backed forces are believed to have seized an oil tanker in the Gulf region off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, after the British Maritime Trade Agency reported that the area “may be affected.” hijack”. Tuesday area.
According to two sources, the ship is the Asphalt Princess, an asphalt/asphalt tanker flying the Panamanian flag. It is located in the Arabian Sea leading to the Strait of Hormuz, which accounts for one-fifth of the world’s offshore oil exports.
Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had earlier stated that Tuesday’s reports of security incidents involving several ships off the coast of the UAE were “suspicious” and warned of any efforts to create a “false atmosphere” for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Last week, an Israeli-managed oil tanker was attacked off the coast of Oman, killing two crew members. The United States, Israel, and the United Kingdom blamed Iran for the attack, and tensions in the region rose. Iran denies responsibility for this.
The Bahrain-based U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and UAE authorities did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on Tuesday’s incident.
The UK Maritime Trade Organization (UKMTO) earlier reported a “potential hijacking” in a warning notice based on third-party sources and advised that the ship had an accident 60 nautical miles east of the Emirate of Fujairah, UAE, so be extra careful . .
A spokesperson said that the British Foreign Office is “urgently investigating” a ship accident near the coast of the UAE.
The Times also reported that the Asphalt Princess had been hijacked, citing British sources as saying that they “are assuming that the Iranian military or an agent has boarded the ship.”
In reference to these reports, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia appeared on the Internet and told a US think tank that he believed Iran was taking negative actions in the region, including endangering shipping. [L1N2PA1RV]
According to Refinitiv ship tracking data, on Tuesday, at least five ships in the waters between the UAE and Iran updated their AIS tracking status to “not under command.” This state usually indicates that the ship cannot be maneuvered due to special circumstances.
Reuters was unable to confirm that Refinitiv’s data was in any way related to the reported incident.
The United States and the United Kingdom said on Sunday that they would work with allies to respond to last week’s attack on Mercer Street, a Japanese petroleum products tanker flying the Liberian flag and managed by Israel’s Zodiac Maritime.
Iran denied participating in the suspected drone attack and said it would respond to any threats to its safety.
Since 2018, tensions in the Gulf waters and between Iran and Israel have escalated, when then President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with six world powers and re-imposed sanctions that weakened its economy .
Iran and Israel are long-term hostile countries and have accused each other of attacking each other’s ships in recent months.
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