US ‘suspects’ Iran seized UAE-based oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz

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The Japanese oil tanker Kokuka Courageous was attacked in the Gulf of Oman last month - one of several attacks on shipping near the Gulf of Hormuz. (AFP/File photo)
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Updated 17 July 2019

US ‘suspects’ Iran seized UAE-based oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz

  • Ship tracking data shows the Panamanian-flagged tanker Riah stopped transmitting its location Saturday
  • A US defense official told AP that Riah is in Iranian territorial waters near Qeshm Island

LONDON: The US said it suspects Iran has seized an oil tanker that drifted into Iranian waters as it traveled through the Strait of Hormuz.

Ship tracking data shows the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah, which is based in the UAE, stopped transmitting its location on Saturday.

 

 

The incident is the latest involving shipping in the region where tensions between Iran and the US have escalated in recent months. Iran has been accused of planting mines on several tankers as Washington ramps up economic and military pressure on the regime over its nuclear program and aggressive foreign policy in the region.

Iran also threatened to retaliate against shipping after British forces this month helped seize an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar as it attempted to deliver oil to Syria.

A US defense official told AP that Riah is in Iranian territorial waters near Qeshm Island, which has a Revolutionary Guard base on it. He said the US "has suspicions" Iran seized the vessel.

"Could it have broken down or been towed for assistance? That's a possibility," the official said. "But the longer there is a period of no contact ... it's going to be a concern."

The Riah, a 58-meter oil tanker, traveled from a port near Dubai through the Strait of Hormuz toward Fujairah on the UAE's east coast. After 11 p.m. Saturday something happened to the vessel, according to tracking data.

Capt. Ranjith Raja of the data firm Refinitiv told AP that the tanker had not switched off its tracking in three months of trips around the UAE.

"That is a red flag," Raja said. 

An Emirati official told Al Arabiya that the oil tanker is not owned or operated by the UAE and has not sent a distress call.

“We are monitoring the situation with our international partners,” the official said.

The ship's registered owner, Dubai-based Prime Tankers LLC, told AP it had sold the ship to another company.

Iranian officials have not said anything publicly about the ship.

*With AP


UK's Yemen envoy denounces Houthi's 'ambassador to Iran'

Updated 25 min 11 sec ago

UK's Yemen envoy denounces Houthi's 'ambassador to Iran'

  • Move also condemned by the internationally recognized government as a breach of international laws
  • Announcement comes after Iran's supreme leader met Houthi official in Tehran last week

DUBAI: The British ambassador to Yemen denounced the recent appointment of a Houthi “ambassador” to Tehran, saying only the legitimate government of Yemen can appoint official diplomats. 

The Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV said late Saturday that a “presidential decree was issued appointing Ibrahim Mohammed Mohammed Al-Dailami as an ambassador … for the republic of Yemen to the Islamic republic of Iran.”

The move was condemned by the internationally recognized government as a breach of international laws.

UK ambassador Michael Aron said late Monday that the Iran-backed Houthi militia has “no right to make such an appointment.”

Iran made no announcement about accepting the appointment of an ambassador for the Houthis, who control the Yemeni capital Sanaa and much of the north.

“This person has no official position - we will not meet him,” Aron tweeted. He also said he reiterated the UK’s support for the government of Yemen when he met Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed on Sunday.

Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi severed diplomatic relations with Iran in October 2015, accusing Tehran of providing military aid to the militants.

The announcement comes after Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei held talks in Tehran last week with a Houthi delegation headed by rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam.

(With AFP)