“We have long been calling for the maintenance of the Safer tanker. Nevertheless, the US-backed forces of aggression, besides their unjust blockade, have deliberately created obstacles and prevented any maintenance,” Mohammed Abdul-Salam said in a post published on his official Twitter page on Saturday.
He added, “They (members of the Saudi-led alliance), therefore, bear responsibility for the repercussions of any spillage. Washington should also be held accountable for providing them with political and military support to press ahead with their aggression and siege.”
Last June, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock told the Security Council that a leak or explosion of the vessel could be much worse than the Exxon Valdez oil spill of the late 1980s in Alaska.
“If the tanker ruptures or explodes, we could see the coastline polluted all along the Red Sea,” Lowcock, the under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said.
“Depending on the time of year and water currents, the spill could reach from Bab el-Mandeb to the Suez Canal, and potentially as far as the Strait of Hormuz,” he added.
The Safer tanker reportedly allows vessels to anchor offshore and transfer oil extracted and processed from installations in the Ma‘arib oil field in central Yemen.
The tanker is said to contain 34 crude oil tanks of different sizes and volumes, amounting to a total capacity of around 3 million barrels.
The ship has been moored several kilometers outside the Red Sea port of Ras Isa, north of Hudaydah.
Yemeni air defense deter Saudi-led warplanes
Separately on Saturday, Yemeni air defense units thwarted Saudi airstrikes against various areas in the country’s northern province of al-Jawf.
It was when the domestically-built, long-range Fater-1 (Innovator-1) surface-to-air missile defense system intercepted the military aircraft and forced them off the Yemeni airspace, he added.
Saree noted that the jets left the area without conducting any air raid.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in order to bring former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crush the Ansarullah movement.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past five years.
More than half of Yemen’s hospitals and clinics have been destroyed or closed during the war by the Saudi-led coalition, which is supported militarily by the UK, US and other Western nations.
At least 80% of the 28 million-strong population is also reliant on aid to survive in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.