News ID: 260272
Published: 0157 GMT October 15, 2019

'One or more governments' behind attack on Iran tanker: Zarif

'One or more governments' behind attack on Iran tanker: Zarif

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tuesday the attack on an Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea last week was a “complicated action” in which “one or more governments” were involved.


“According to information received, the attack on the Iranian tanker has been carried out by one or more governments. Of course, investigations are underway, but as long as we have not reached definitive conclusions, we will not accuse any government,” Zarif said.

“The attack on the Iranian tanker was a sophisticated, state-sponsored action,” Zarif said.

Iran says the Sabiti oil tanker owned by the National Iranian Tanker Company was hit by two separate explosions, most probably by missiles, off the Red Sea port.

The NITC said the attack occurred 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the Saudi port of Jeddah on Friday.

The incident caused oil to spill from the tanker into the Red Sea, the company said, before it was eventually controlled and the vessel began slowly moving back toward Persian Gulf waters.

It is the first Iranian ship to have been targeted since a spate of unexplained attacks on vessels in May and June in and around the Persian Gulf, a vital waterway linking oil-producing countries to world markets, as well as drone attacks on Saudi oil installations.

The United States accused Iran of attacking the vessels with mines and to be behind the drone assault, something it strongly denied.

The US has formed a naval coalition to escort commercial vessels through the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic chokepoint at the mouth the Persian Gulf.  It has been joined by Australia, Bahrain, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Iran has denounced the coalition, saying it would bring insecurity to the region.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday the attack was undoubtedly carried out by a government and that there would be consequences.

"A government has definitely been involved in this," Rouhani told a news conference in Tehran.

"It wasn't an act by terrorists, by an individual, a group. It was done by a government."

Rouhani said Iran had video footage showing a number of "rockets" were fired at the Sabiti, with two of them striking the vessel.

"It was a hostile and treacherous act," he said.

"We are investigating which government was involved... but it is still too early to determine who has done it."

Iran said previously that the "cowardly" attack on its own tanker was caused by a missile strike and vowed not to let it go unpunished.

"Maritime piracy and wickedness in international waterways... will not be left unanswered," Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, said on Saturday.

According to the latest data from shipping monitors Marine Traffic, the Sabiti was close to entering the Bab al-Mandeb Strait on Monday.

Iran has been locked in a standoff with the United States and its Persian Gulf Arab allies since US President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 deal that gave it relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

At the height of the crisis, Trump ordered retaliatory strikes against Iran after the Islamic Republic downed a US spy drone but called them off at the last minute.

On Tuesday, Iranian media published new pictures of the Sabiti, showing two gaping holes in the hull of the damaged tanker.

Mohammad Rastad, the head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization, said the vessel is carrying 140,000 tons of crude oil which is undamaged, thanks to timely measures taken to contain the leak.

According to the official, the tanker is currently sailing in Bab al-Mandeb strait and will soon reach the Gulf of Aden. It is bound for Bandar Abbas and estimated to reach the Iranian port in the next nine days, where necessary repair on the ship will begin, he said.

Press TV and AFP contributed to this story.


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