Iran seizes another oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz as Gulf crisis erupts

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS NEWS)

 

Iran seizes another oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz as Gulf crisis erupts

IRAN is believed to have seized another oil tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran: ‘Startlingly dangerous moment’ in Middle East says expert

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The Israeli Broadcasting Corporation is reporting another ship has been seized in the gulf. Correspondent Amochai Stein said on Twitter: “Iran has seized another oil vessel in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard arrests a vessel and 11 crew on ‘diesel smuggling charges’.”

It comes after Iran said accusations it had a role in the attack on Saudi oil installations were “unacceptable” and “baseless”, after a senior US official said the Islamic Republic was behind it.

“These allegations are condemned as unacceptable and entirely baseless,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in remarks carried by state TV.

On Sunday, a senior US official told reporters that evidence from the attack, which hit the world’s biggest oil-processing facility on Saturday, indicated Iran was behind it, instead of the Yemeni Houthi group that had claimed responsibility.

Iran news

Iran is believed to have seized another oil tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz (Image: REUTERS/GETTY)

Donald Trump waded into the row by issuing a fierce warning to Iran that America was “locked and loaded” in a chilling esponse to the oil field attacks.

The US President said on Twitter: “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of the attack, and under what terms we would proceed.”

He then said the US had ‘PLENTY OF OIL!’ despite the attacks on the fields.

READ MORE: Putin swoops on Iran chaos in crunch talks hours after Saudi strike

Last night the US issued satellite images an intelligence backing the claim that Iran was behind attacks on major Saudi oil facilities.

According to the New York Times, ABC and Reuters US officials pointed 19 points of impact from bombs or missiles and evidence indicated the attacks had come from a west-north-west direction – not Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen, which lies to the south-west of the Saudi oil facilities.

US officials suggested launch sites in the northern Gulf, Iran or Iraq were a more likely source of the missiles. And a close-up image of damaged tanks at the Abqaiq processing plant seemed to show impact points on the western side.

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Iran’s semi-official Students News agency ISNA reported Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have seized the the vessel for allegedly smuggling 250,000 litres of diesel fuel to the United Arab Emirates.

A reporter for ISNA said: “It was detained near Iran’s Greater Tunb island in the Persian Gulf.

“The crew have been handed over to legal authorities in the southern Hormozgan province.”

Donald Trump would take ‘aggressive’ stance on Iran says expert

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Mr Trump said on Monday the United States would help its allies.

Taking to Twitter he said: “We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas, & in fact have very few tankers there, but will help our Allies!”

The latest reported ship seizure by Iran follows a series of incidents involving shipping around the Gulf after US sanctions on Iranian oil exports took full effect in May.

Iran: Zarif: US Turning Gulf Region into ‘Tinderbox’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Zarif: US Turning Gulf Region into ‘Tinderbox’

Monday, 12 August, 2019 – 11:30
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif arrives for a meeting at United Nations Headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York, US, July 18, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Asharq Al-Awsat
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the United States in a television interview on Monday of turning the Gulf region into a “matchbox ready to ignite.”

Oil tanker traffic passing through the Gulf via the Strait of Hormuz has become the focus of a US-Iranian standoff since Washington pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions to strangle Tehran’s oil exports.

After explosions that damaged six tankers in May and June and Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in July, the United States launched a maritime security mission in the Gulf, joined by Britain, to protect merchant vessels.

According to Reuters, Zarif said in the interview that the Strait “is narrow, it will become less safe as foreign (navy) vessels increase their presence in it”.

“The region has become a matchbox ready to ignite because America and its allies are flooding it with weapons,” he said.

Last month, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized the British tanker, Stena Impero near the Strait for alleged marine violations, two weeks after Britain seized an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar, accusing it of violating sanctions on Syria.

The tanker dispute has tangled Britain in the diplomatic dispute between the EU’s big powers – which want to preserve the Iran nuclear deal – and the United States which has pushed for a tougher policy on Iran.

Also Monday, Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri charged that Washington’s unilateralist policies and its emphasis on sanctions threaten the stability of the region.

He was speaking at an economic forum hosted by Turkmenistan.

Saudi: BP Stopped Taking its Tankers through Hormuz since July 10

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

BP Stopped Taking its Tankers through Hormuz since July 10

Tuesday, 30 July, 2019 – 11:30
Traditional Omani boats known as dhows, and cargo ships are seen sailing towards the Strait of Hormuz, off the coast of Musandam province, Oman, July 21, 2018. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

BP has not taken any of its oil tankers through the Strait of Hormuz since a July 10 attempt by Iran to seize one of its vessels, the British company’s Chief Financial Officer Brian Gilvary said on Tuesday.

The oil and gas company has no current plans to take any of its own vessels through the strait, Gilvary said, adding that BP is shipping oil out of the region using chartered tankers.

“We will continue to make shipments through there but you won’t see any BP-flagged tankers going through in the short term,” he said, according to Reuters.

Gilvary was speaking as the company reported better than expected second-quarter earnings due to a strong increase in oil and gas production.

Tensions spiked between Iran and Britain this month when Iranian commandos seized a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important waterway for oil shipments.

That came two weeks after British forces captured an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar suspected of violating European Union sanctions on Syria.

Earlier this month, three Iranian vessels tried to block the passage of a BP-operated tanker through the Strait of Hormuz but withdrew after warnings from a British warship.

Washington, which has by far the strongest Western naval contingent in the Gulf, on July 9 proposed stepping up efforts to safeguard the Strait of Hormuz.

 

Saudi’s: Denmark Backs European-led Naval Mission to Hormuz Strait

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Denmark Backs European-led Naval Mission to Hormuz Strait

Friday, 26 July, 2019 – 11:15
British frigate HMS Montrose. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Denmark welcomed on Friday a British government proposal for a European-led naval mission to the Strait of Hormuz aimed at ensuring the safety of shipping in the strategic waterway.

“The Danish government looks positively toward a possible contribution to such initiative,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said in a statement. “The initiative will have a strong European footprint”.

Britain has sought to assemble the mission in Hormuz, used by tankers carrying about a fifth of the world’s oil, following Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged ship in what London said was an act of “state piracy”.

The initiative won initial support from Denmark, France and Italy, three senior diplomats said on Tuesday.

EU-member Denmark is among the world’s biggest seafaring nations and home to the world’s biggest container shipping firm A.P. Moller-Maersk, which sails in the high-tension area.

“The Royal Danish Navy is strong and capable and would be able to contribute actively and effectively to this type of engagement,” said Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen.

A final decision would still need to be discussed in parliament.

On Thursday, the UK government said it was offering British-flagged ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz a Royal Navy escort.

The Department for Transport said that if ships give advance notice of their plans they will be escorted by frigate HMS Montrose, either individually or in groups.

The escort is not compulsory, and Britain has limited naval resources in the region.

On Friday the Montrose arrived too late to prevent the tanker Stena Impero from being seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested Wednesday that Stena Impero could be released if the UK takes similar steps to hand back an Iranian oil tanker seized by the Royal Navy off Gibraltar earlier this month.

DGCA asks Indian airlines to avoid Iranian airspace

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

DGCA asks Indian airlines to avoid Iranian airspace

Indian carriers’ decision follows a warning by the American aviation regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration to a possibility that commercial aircraft can be mistakenly targeted in Iranian airspace.

INDIA Updated: Jun 22, 2019 23:06 IST

Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
New Delhi
DGCA,Iranian airspace,Indian flights
Amid rising geopolitical tensions between the US and Iran, India’s aviation regulator DGCA Saturday said Indian airlines have decided to avoid the “affected part of the Iranian airspace” and reroute their flight “suitably”. (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

Aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), announced on Saturday that Indian airlines had been asked to avoid parts of Iranian airspace, a day after several countries imposed similar restrictions over a region where military tensions have been heightened since the downing of an American drone by Iran.

The region falls in the path of west-bound flights from India, a route that has already been constrained by the closure of Pakistani airspace since tensions spiked in February and the two countries carried out airstrikes on each other’s soil.

“All Indian operators in consultation with DGCA have decided to avoid the affected part of Iranian Airspace to ensure safe travel for the passengers. They will re-route flights suitably,” the DGCA said in a tweet.

Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani said the move will not have a “substantial effect” on the airline’s flights. “Details being worked out for rerouting on incoming flights,” he said.

According to industry experts flights of Air India – the only Indian carrier flying long distances – will need to take a longer route to avoid the closed areas, which would add to its operating costs.

The airline is already spending an additional ₹6 crore per day due to the Pakistan airspace closure.

WATCH | Iran shows US drone debris, Trump says ‘we were cocked, loaded to retaliate’

Iran shows US drone debris, Trump says ‘we were cocked, loaded to retaliate’
Tension between Iran and United States of America seems to be increasing by the day.
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Some of the world’s leading carriers including British Airways, Qantas and Singapore Airlines on Friday suspended flights over the Strait of Hormuz, as US President Donald Trump confirmed that he backed down at the last moment from launching airstrikes on Iranian targets.

American carrier United Airlines also indefinitely suspended its flight between New York/Newark and Mumbai from Friday evening.

The suspensions announced on Friday will affect thousands of passengers.

Experts have raised concerns about flying over troubled regions since the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which killed 298 people on board. The aircraft was shot down over Ukraine by rebel forces, who are believed to have mistaken it for a military aircraft.

The drone that Iran shot down using a surface-to-air missile had a wing span larger than a Boeing 737 aircraft – a commonly used jet by airlines – and had the capability to fly higher than altitudes typically used by commercial flights.

With agency inputs

First Published: Jun 22, 2019 17:03 IST

China Criticizes Iran for Threatening to Block Hormuz Strait Oil Shipments

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

China Criticizes Iran for Threatening to Block Hormuz Strait Oil Shipments

Friday, 6 July, 2018 – 09:15
Trading shows and ships are docked on the Arabian Gulf waters near the town of Khasab, in Oman. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
China condemned on Friday Iran for threatening to block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran should make more effort to ensure stability in the Middle East and get along with its neighbors, said Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong.

He made his remarks during a news briefing ahead of a major summit between China and Arab states that kicks off in Beijing next week.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and some senior military commanders have threatened to disrupt oil shipments from the Gulf countries if Washington tries to strangle Tehran’s oil exports.

Carrying one-third of the world’s seaborne oil every day, the Strait of Hormuz links Middle East crude producers to key markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond.

Asked about the Iranian threat to the strait, Chen remarked that China and Arab countries had close communications about Middle East peace, including the Iran issue.

“China consistently believes that the relevant country should do more to benefit peace and stability in the region, and jointly protect peace and stability there,” he added.

“Especially as it is a country on the Gulf, it should dedicate itself to being a good neighbor and co-existing peacefully,” he continued. “China will continue to play our positive, constructive role.”

Ministers from 21 Arab countries are attending the summit, as well as Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah. Chinese President Xi Jinping will give the opening address on Tuesday.

The United States Navy vowed on Thursday to protect oil routes and international navigation in the Hormuz Strait in wake of Iran’s threats.

“The US and its partners provide, and promote security and stability in the region,” Central Command spokesman Navy Captain Bill Urban said in an email to Reuters.

Asked what would be the US naval reaction if Iran blocks the strait, he said: “Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.”

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Iranian Military Repeatedly Acting Like Aggressive Idiots In The Strait Of Hormuz

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

The US military labeled the actions of an Iranian vessel “unsafe and unprofessional” after it trained a laser on a US helicopter Tuesday.

Three US Naval ships and a US Marine Corps CH-53E helicopter had an unsafe and unprofessional interaction with an Iranian Navy vessel while transiting the international waters of the Strait of Hormuz, according to a statement from the US military.
The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, guided-missile destroyer USS Cole and dry cargo ship USNS Washington Chambers were traveling through the strait when an Iranian vessel approached the US ships, coming within 800 yards of the Bataan, according to a statement issued Wednesday by Cdr. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
During the encounter the Iranian vessel trained a spotlight on the Cole and Bataan, scanning the ship from bow to stern. No warning shots were fired during the encounter.
The Iranian sailors also shined a laser on the CH-53E helicopter that was accompanying the formation of US ships according to the statement.
Urban said the use of a laser made the encounter unsafe and unprofessional.
A separate US defense official told CNN that the Iranian vessel was a missile boat and that the use of the Iranian laser was detected by the helicopter which proceeded to fire off flares as part of its automatic defensive measures.
“Illuminating helicopters with lasers at night is dangerous as it creates a navigational hazard that can impair vision and can be disorienting to pilots using night vision goggles,” Urban said.
It isn’t the first time the US and Iranian navies have been involved in a tense standoff in the Persian Gulf.
In April the US accused an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ship of acting in an “unprofessional but also provocative” manner while approaching the American destroyer, the USS Mahan, while it was sailing in the Persian Gulf.
Pentagon spokesman US Navy Capt. Jeff Davis previously told reporters that there had been 35 incidents of unsafe or unprofessional behavior by Iranian vessels in 2016, although the “vast majority” had occurred in the first half of that year.
A second US official said that the number of unsafe and unprofessional encounters in 2017 was “way below” the number that had occurred by the same point in 2016.