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.


Jordan announces smoking crackdown in coronavirus fight

Updated 02 July 2020

Jordan announces smoking crackdown in coronavirus fight

  • Jordan has one of the world’s highest smoking rates
  • The kingdom introduced a cigarette ban in public places in 2008

AMMAN: Jordan has extended a ban on cigarettes in closed public spaces to all forms of smoking, citing the fight against COVID-19 in a country with one of the world’s highest smoking rates.
“In order to protect the health and safety of citizens, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, smoking of all forms (cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and shisha) is banned in closed public places,” the health ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The World Health Organization has long ranked Jordan’s 10 million inhabitants among the world’s biggest smokers.
The Guardian last month published figures showing that the kingdom had surpassed Indonesia to have the highest smoking rates in the world, with more than eight out of 10 men regularly smoking or otherwise consuming nicotine.
Citing the WHO, the health ministry said that “smokers and passive smokers are more vulnerable to being infected by COVID-19, with stronger symptoms.”
Jordan has registered 1,133 cases of the COVID-19 illness, including nine deaths.
The kingdom introduced a cigarette ban in public places in 2008, but the new regulations cover electronic cigarettes and shisha waterpipes popular in the region.
However they only apply in “fully closed” public areas.
“The decision doesn’t bother me much because I don’t smoke arghileh (shisha) in closed places,” said waterpipe enthusiast Khaled Al-Shamhuri.
“The smoking ban in public places is old but wasn’t enforced.”
Coffee shop employee Hassan Al-Shadfan said the new rules would “negatively affect us.”
“The cafe is a closed space and most clients don’t just come to eat or drink tea and coffee, most smoke arghileh,” he said.
But Ahmad Rubbaa, owner of a cafeteria selling cigarettes, was less concerned.
“A smoker is a smoker wherever they are, no law can stop them,” he said.
“I don’t think this will affect tobacco sales.”