Iranian naval mines likely used in UAE tanker attacks: Bolton

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Bolton was received on Wednesday by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. (Emirates News Agency)
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US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the tanker attacks were connected to the strike on oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia and a rocket attack on Baghdad’s Green Zone. (Reuters)
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The Saudi-flagged Al-Marzoqah, above, one of the four tankers damaged in alleged ‘sabotage attacks’ blamed on Iran. (AFP)
Updated 29 May 2019

Iranian naval mines likely used in UAE tanker attacks: Bolton

  • The UAE has not yet blamed anyone for the sabotage of four vessels, including two Saudi tankers
  • ‘I think it is clear these (tanker attacks) were naval mines almost certainly from Iran’

ABU DHABI: US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Wednesday that attacks on oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates this month were the work of “naval mines almost certainly from Iran.”

The UAE has not yet blamed anyone for the sabotage of four vessels, including two Saudi tankers, which was followed two days later by drone strikes on oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh accused Tehran of ordering the strikes, which were claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement. Iran has denied involvement in either attack.

“I think it is clear these (tanker attacks) were naval mines almost certainly from Iran,” Bolton told reporters in Abu Dhabi but declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation in which the United States is taking part.

He said the tanker attacks were connected to the strike on oil pumping stations on Saudi Arabia’s East-West pipeline and a rocket attack on the Green Zone in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Bolton was received on Wednesday by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed where the two discussed cooperation and coordination as well as regional and international efforts to tackle terrorism according to Emirates News Agency.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman meanwhile dismissed the remarks made by Bolton that Iranian naval mines likely used in the UAE tanker attacks, Fars News said.

Bolton also said there had been an unsuccessful attack on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea port of Yanbu a couple of days before the operation off the coast of the UAE. Saudi officials were not immediately available to for comment.

“We take all of this very seriously,” he said. “These attacks were unfortunately consistent with the very serious threat information that we had been obtaining. It is one reason we increased our deterrent capability in the region.”

Opinion

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Tensions between the United States and Iran have escalated since US President Donald Trump withdrew from a pact, signed with other major powers, designed to curb Tehran’s nuclear activities.

The Trump administration has tightened sanctions on Iran, notably targeting its key oil exports, and beefed up its military presence in the Gulf, accusing the Islamic Republic of threats to US troops and interests.

Bolton said the United States was trying to be “prudent and responsible” in its approach. “The point is to make it clear to Iran and its surrogates that these kinds of activities risk a very strong response from the Americans.” Iran says the United States is indulging in psychological warfare and that it will not be cowed.


I won’t quit: Lebanese PM defiant as his critics blast financial chaos

Updated 35 min 57 sec ago

I won’t quit: Lebanese PM defiant as his critics blast financial chaos

  • University president and UN human rights chief join condemnation of ‘incompetent’ government

BEIRUT: Beleaguered Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Saturday defied a barrage of criticism to declare that his government alone ruled Lebanon and it was determined to implement reforms to resolve the financial crisis.

Diab dismissed as “fake news” reports that he was on the verge of resignation, and said: “Lebanon will not be under anyone’s control as long as I am in power.”

The prime minister spoke after UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned that Lebanon was enduring “the worst economic crisis in its history” and was “fast spiraling out of control.” 

She urged Diab’s government to initiate urgent reforms and respond to “the people’s essential needs, such as food, electricity, health, and education.”

Diab also faced harsh criticism from the American University of Beirut (AUB), where he was vice president and a professor before becoming prime minister.

BACKGROUND

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet urged the Lebanese government to initiate urgent reforms and respond to ‘the people’s essential needs, such as food, health and education.’

AUB president Fadlo Khuri said Diab’s government was the worst in Lebanon’s history in its understanding of higher education.

“I have not seen any shred of competence in this government since its formation six months ago,” said.

“The government owes the AUB $150 million in medical bills,” Khuri said, and he urged Diab to “at least discuss with us a payment timeline.”

Lebanon’s financial plight is illustrated by its currency, the lira, which has lost 80 percent of its value. 

The black market  dollar exchange rate on Saturday was 7,500, compared with the official rate of 1,507.

Bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund were suspended in a dispute over government debt, but Diab insisted on Saturday: “We have turned the page … and started discussing the basic reforms required and the program that the IMF and Lebanon will agree upon, which will restore confidence and open the door to many projects.”