An incident where Iranian-backed forces allegedly seized control of a tanker in the Gulf off the coast of the United Arab Emirates has ended safely, the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations announced.
WARNING 001/AUG/2021 Update 002
Category: Incident – Potential Hijack – Non Piracy
— United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) (@UK_MTO) August 4, 2021
WARNING 001/AUG/2021 Update 01
Category: Incident – Potential Hijack – Non Piracy
— United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) (@UK_MTO) August 3, 2021
The vessel is safe and secure, the UKMTO added.
On August 3rd, two maritime incidents took place, and they were attributed to Iranian-backed forces.
These unknown Iranian-backed forces allegedly took control of an oil tanker in the Gulf off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, three maritime security sources said, after Britain’s maritime trade agency reported a “potential hijack” in the area.
Two of the maritime sources identified the seized vessel as the Panama-flagged asphalt/bitumen tanker Asphalt Princess in an area in the Arabian Sea leading to the Strait of Hormuz.
The second incident involved six oil tankers, where they announced around the same time via their Automatic Identification System trackers that they were “not under command,” according to MarineTraffic.com.
It wasn’t immediately clear what was happening off the coast of Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman, but British sources told the UK’s Times newspaper that they also believe the Asphalt Princess had been hijacked and that they are “working on the assumption Iranian military or proxies boarded the vessel.
The Times defense editor tweeted: “British sources believe Asphalt Princess has been hijacked. They are working on the assumption Iranian military or proxies have boarded vessel.”
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards denied that Iranian forces or allies were involved in action against any ship off the UAE coast, saying the incident was a pretext for “hostile action” against Tehran, Iranian state television said on its website.
“According to information from security sources, Iran’s armed forces and all branches of the Islamic Resistance in the Middle East have nothing to do with the incident in the Gulf of Oman,” the Guards said in a statement carried by the website.
Abolfazl Shekarchi, Iran’s senior armed forces spokesman, also denounced reports of maritime incidents and hijacking in the Gulf area as “a kind of psychological warfare and setting the stage for new bouts of adventurism,” the Fars News Agency said.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry also dismissed rumors about the entry of the country’s military forces into foreign ships passing in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, warning against such false reports propagated by the Western and Zionist media.
Saeed Khatibzadeh, the Foreign Ministry spokesman called on all parties to be vigilant against the spread of fake news, given the contradictory news about maritime security in the region.
“Iran’s naval forces are ready to provide naval support, if needed, to transit ships in the region,” he said. “In case of problems in navigation systems, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to provide assistance and investigate the matter closely.”
The U.S. State Department said that while they are concerned it is “too early for us to offer a judgment.” The department will continue to share information and coordinate with allies regarding any developments. The Emirati government did not immediately acknowledge the incident.
Meanwhile, in the same vein, the UK alongside powerhouses Romania and Liberia, wrote a letter to the UN saying that it was “highly likely” that Iran used one or more drones to carry out a deadly tanker attack on July 29th off the coast of Oman.
“This attack disrupted and posed a risk to the safety and security of international shipping and was a clear violation of international law,” the countries said in a letter to the 15-member council seen by Reuters. “This act must be condemned by the international community.”
“The United Kingdom and Romania, along with regional and international partners, are conducting a thorough investigation of this attack. We will update the council in due course,” Britain, Liberia and Romania said in the letter.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry earlier summoned Britain’s chargé d’affaires and Romania’s ambassador in protest at the false accusations.
In response, Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces said:
“In addition to helping the safe movement of commercial ships, the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran have full intelligence about any suspicious movements and stand completely prepared,” he told Fars news agency.
According to our direct links in the Persian Gulf region, no information on new incidents for any merchant ship in the region is confirmed so far.
Misleading the public all around the world for diplomatic gain in New York is not fair game. pic.twitter.com/9aXPXo7kAZ
— Iran (I.R.of) Embassy in UK (@Iran_in_UK) August 3, 2021
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- At Least Four Vessels Broadcasted Warning Off UAE Coast
- Updated: Fatalities Confirmed. Israeli-Operated Oil Tanker Targeted In Gulf Of Oman: Conflicting Reports Of Cause