Saudi Arabia, UAE, Norway tell UN Security Council tanker attacker ‘most likely a state actor’

UAE Navy boats are seen next to the Saudi tanker Al Marzoqah, one of four ships that were targetted by saboteurs off the Port of Fujairah, UAE, on May 13, 2019. (REUTERS/Satish Kumar)
Updated 07 June 2019
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Saudi Arabia, UAE, Norway tell UN Security Council tanker attacker ‘most likely a state actor’

  • The attacks required expert navigation of fast boats and trained divers, says report
  • Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United Nations laid the blame squarely on Iran

NEW YORK: The United Arab Emirates told United Nations Security Council members on Thursday that attacks on four tankers off its coast on May 12 bore the hallmarks of a “sophisticated and coordinated operation,” most likely by a state actor.
In a document on the briefing to Security Council members, the UAE, joined by Norway and Saudi Arabia, did not say who it believed was behind the attacks and did not mention Iran, which has been accused by the United States of being directly responsible.
The attacks required expert navigation of fast boats and trained divers who likely placed limpet mines with a high degree of precision on the vessels under the waterline to incapacitate but not sink them, according to the preliminary findings of the countries’ joint investigation.
“While investigations are still ongoing, these facts are strong indications that the four attacks were part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation carried out by an actor with significant operational capacity, most likely a state actor,” the three countries said in the document.
They believe it was the work of several teams of operatives, which coordinated the timed detonation of all four explosive charges within less than an hour.
The May 12 attacks targeted two Saudi tankers, an Emirati vessel and a Norwegian tanker, causing no casualties but fueling tensions between the United States and Iran during weeks of escalating rhetoric.
US national security adviser John Bolton said on May 29 that the attacks were the work of “naval mines almost certainly from Iran.” Tehran denied the accusations.
A few days earlier in May, at the Pentagon, US Rear Admiral Michael Gilday accused Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) of being directly responsible for the attacks.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United Nations, Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi, laid the blame squarely on Iran.

“We believe that the responsibility for this action lies on the shoulders of Iran. We have no hesitation in making this statement,” he said.

 

Threat to global energy supplies
US President Donald Trump’s administration, acting on concerns of a potential attack by Iran on US interests, has deployed 1,500 more troops to the Middle East, accelerated the movement of an aircraft carrier strike group to the region and sent bombers and additional Patriot missiles.
The tanker attacks occurred off the UAE emirate of Fujairah, which lies just outside the Strait of Hormuz, a vital global oil and gas shipping route that separates the Gulf Arab states — allies of the United States — and Iran.
The three countries said the attacks endangered commercial navigation and the security of global energy supplies. They planned to share the findings of their probe with the London-based International Maritime Organization.
In the weeks before the attacks, the Trump administration hardened its policy against Iran by fully reimposing sanctions on Iranian oil exports and designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.
Trump reiterated this week that he wants to sit down with Iran’s leaders to negotiate a new deal, a year after Washington pulled out of an accord between Iran and global powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in return for lifting international sanctions.
Irani Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that Tehran would not be “deceived” by Trump’s offer. 


Turkey blocked from US F-35 program after Russian missile purchase

Updated 17 min 55 sec ago
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Turkey blocked from US F-35 program after Russian missile purchase

  • “The US and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the program"

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Wednesday that it was removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program, a move that had been long threatened and expected after Ankara began accepting delivery of an advanced Russian missile defense system last week.
The first parts of the S-400 air defense system were flown to the Murted military air base northwest of Ankara on Friday, sealing Turkey’s deal with Russia, which Washington had struggled for months to prevent.
“The US and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the program and initiate the process to formally remove Turkey from the program,” said Ellen Lord, the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.
“The United States is spending between $500 and $600 million in non-recurring engineering in order to shift the supply chain,” she said.
Used by NATO and other US allies, the F-35 stealth fighter jet is the world’s most advanced jet fighter. Washington is concerned that deploying the S-400 with the F-35 would allow Russia to gain too much inside information of the stealth system.
“The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” the White House said in a statement earlier on Wednesday.
Washington has long said the acquisition may lead to Turkey’s expulsion from the F-35 program.
The Pentagon had already laid out a plan to remove Turkey from the program, including halting any new training for Turkish pilots on the advanced aircraft.
“The situation with Turkey is a government-to-government matter and we’ll comply with any guidance issued by the United States Government,” said a spokesperson for Lockheed Martin Corp. , the prime contractor on the jet.