Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers were targeted by an unprovoked attack on Thursday, in the Gulf of Oman, a key waterway used to transport energy supplies from the Middle East. No one has claimed responsibility or clarified how the tankers were attacked.
“U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7:00 a.m. U.S. Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance,” spokesman for Bahrain-based U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet announced.
The crew members of both vessels were rescued by a nearby vessel and transferred to an Iranian navy ship, then taken to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
On one hand, U.S. officials indicate that the attack was carried out by Iranian forces. In fact, Washington blamed Iran for similar attacks against four oil tankers -two Saudis, an Emirati and a Norwegian- near the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah on the 12th of May. On the other hand, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif considered yesterday’s incident as more than “suspicious”.
According to Reuters, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the attacks. “I strongly condemn any attack against civilian vessels. Facts must be established and responsibilities clarified,” he told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States.
The explosions that targeted the tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday were significantly severe. In response to these attacks, crude oil prices surged more than 4%.
Ghia Dergham and Fatima Matar