IranMiddle East

Iran opposes any act of sabotage against maritime safety, intl. trade after fuel tanker blast

Iran opposes any act of sabotage against maritime safety and international trade security after an explosion hit a fuel tanker off the Saudi port of Jeddah.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects any move and act of sabotage against maritime safety and security and freedom of international trade,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Wednesday.

He stressed the Islamic Republic of Iran’s unwavering position on the need to safeguard regional stability and security.

Khatibzadeh expressed hope that countries in the region would step up their efforts to strengthen cooperation in providing maritime security, combating piracy, and fighting illicit drug trafficking in order to achieve lasting regional security.

The remarks came two days after an oil tanker off the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah suffered an explosion.

“The attack resulted in a small fire, which emergency units successfully extinguished. The incident did not result in any casualties, and there was no damage caused to the unloading facilities, nor any effect on supplies,” a spokesman of the kingdom’s Ministry of Energy said, condemning the attack as “terrorist.”

The Singapore-flagged oil tanker’s owner also confirmed it was struck by a blast in the fuel terminal in Jeddaha key Red Sea port and distribution center for oil giant Saudi Aramco.

The company, Hafnia, said all 22 sailors on board the BW Rhine escaped without injury, but warned it was possible some oil leaked out from the site of the blast.

The ship’s crew put out the fire, the company said, adding that parts of the ship’s hull had been damaged.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for what marks the latest in a series of attacks on vessels in the kingdom amid its years-long war in Yemen.

Reacting to the explosion, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen, said on Monday that what the Saudi regime has termed as a “terrorist” attack was proof of the failure of the US and the UK to protect the kingdom.

Houthi said in a post on his Twitter account in a sarcastic tone that the Yemenis may consider helping protect the Saudi ports, if asked.

“The Yemeni security and military organization has a lot of experience in confronting American terrorism and its branches,” he added.

The Monday incident comes after an explosion last month rocked a Greek-operated oil tanker docked at the southern Saudi port of Shuqaiq. The Riyadh-led military coalition blamed the attack on Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Saudi Arabia, which has along with its allies launched a devastating brutal military campaign against its impoverished neighbor Yemen, has been targeted with ballistic missile and drone attacks, with several of them hitting its energy sector.

The United Nations rights experts have called for an end to the multi-billion-dollar arms trade that it says is fueling the war in Yemen and turned the country into what the UN considers the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe.

“Without the arms you will not have the same level of atrocities taking place on the ground and obviously the impact on the Yemeni people would not be as great,” said Ardi Imsels, a member of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts.

“It is that simple and so we urge all parties to the conflict and indeed all third States that are engaged and have influence over the parties through the arms transfer to stop transferring those arms,” he added.

Last week, Germany’s official DPA news agency, quoting government officials, reported that the Berlin government went a step ahead to extend until the end of next year an embargo on exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Back in November, Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement praised countries that have adopted measures to halt arms sales to the “child-killer” regime in Saudi Arabia, calling on other world states to follow suit.

Aid charity Oxfam also said in November that the member states of the Group of 20 (G20) have sold more than $17bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia since it launched the war in Yemen.

In a report, Oxfam said the figure was three times more than what the G20 members have given to Yemen as humanitarian aid.

“Making billions from arms exports which fuel the conflict while providing a small fraction of that in aid to Yemen is both immoral and incoherent. The world’s wealthiest nations cannot continue to put profits above the Yemeni people,” said Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director.

Earlier this month, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) offered the staggering death toll of 233,000 from the six years of relentless Saudi-led war that has ravaged Yemen and its people.

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