U.S. military probes oil tanker 'sabotage attacks' off UAE coast

U.S. military probes oil tanker 'sabotage attacks' off UAE coast

U.S. military probes oil tanker 'sabotage attacks' off UAE coast

Tuesday's events come on the heels of two Saudi oil tankers being among four vessels that were targeted in an unspecified "sabotage attack" on Sunday off the United Arab Emirates coast of Fujeirah - as well as Tehran announcing last week it would breach the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and return to higher levels of uranium enrichment if Europe doesn't protect it from the impact of the USA sanctions.

In a statement carried on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Aramco had "temporarily shut down" the pipeline to "evaluate its condition" but added that oil production and exports had not been interrupted.

Headlines from the Middle East grabbed attention early in the session after Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were among those attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, describing it as an attempt to undermine security of supply amid United States-Iran tensions.

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia said it had stopped pumping crude oil along a major pipeline on Tuesday following a drone attack, hours after Yemen's Huthi rebels said they had targeted vital Saudi installations.

The pipeline transports oil from the oilfields in the Eastern Province to the port of Yanbu on the west coast.

Al-Falih said the drone attacks reaffirm the need of the worldwide community to confront the activities of groups like the Houthis, whom he accused of being backed by Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival.

Two editors of Iranian news outlets say Iran is claiming responsibility for the attacks on four ships anchored off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, according to MEMRI, an worldwide media monitoring organization.

Fujairah's port is about 140km south of the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Gulf through which a third of all oil at sea is traded.

Yemen's internationally-recognized government affirms its full support for all the measures that Saudi Arabia takes to preserve its security and counter all forms of terrorism.

"The East-West Crude Oil Pipeline has been attacked by explosive-laden drones", the Beirut-based Al Mayadeen TV channel quotes him as saying.

"We had formerly anticipated that they would carry out these sorts of activities to escalate tension", the foreign minister said. The narrow waterway separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula.

It comes after Washington last week said it had detected new and urgent threats from Iran and its proxy forces in the region targeting Americans and American interests.

The attacks occur amid a war of words between Washington and Tehran over sanctions and USA military presence in the region. Emirati officials have declined to elaborate on the nature of the sabotage to the ships or say who might have been responsible.

The UAE's foreign ministry said in its statement, published on WAM state news agency, that the concerned authorities have taken all the necessary measures, and are investigating the circumstances of the incident in cooperation with local and worldwide bodies.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia said that armed drones hit two if its oil pumping stations.

"We. talked about the policies that hardliners in the USA administration as well as in the region are attempting to impose", Zarif told Iranian state TV in India after a bilateral meeting with Sushma Swaraj.

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