07:30 GMT22 September 2020
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    Tehran’s top security official said a response will come after the dedicated committee submits its report on the investigation to Tehran in the coming days.

    Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, vowed a response for the 11 October attack on the oil tanker Sabiti, which he called “acts of mischief” and “maritime piracy.”

    “Maritime piracy and acts of mischief in international waters that are carried out with the aim of undermining the security of merchant ships will not go unanswered,” Shamkhani said, according to the Mehr news agency.

    He reiterated a position expressed earlier by government spokesman Ali Rabei, however, that Tehran will not jump to conclusions and will thoroughly investigate the incident.

    “A special committee has been established to address the attack against Sabiti vessel which was hit by two missiles near Saudi coasts in the Red Sea,” he said. 

    ​According to the admiral, the committee report will be submitted to authorities as video evidence recorded by Sabiti and other information has provided clues to the “dangerous adventure.”

    Throughout 2019, Iranian tankers have repeatedly been harassed across several regions, including the Red Sea, starting on 2 May, with tanker Happiness I allegedly “taken hostage” by the Saudis. On 4 July, British and Gibraltar authorities seized the Grace 1 in the Strait of Gibraltar, a tanker they claimed was carrying oil to Syria. Both Happiness 1 and Grace 1 were subsequently released.

    “Making the international waterways insecure poses worrying threats to the global economy, and the responsibility for the consequences of such provocative actions lie with their planners, executors, and supporters,” Shamkhani said.

    Numerous ships carrying the flags of several countries have been harassed in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, close to Iranian borders: between 12 May and 13 June, two Norwegian, two Saudi, one UAE and one Japanese vessel have been attacked in the region. The attacks have been blamed on Tehran, but the true culprit(s) remains unknown.

    On 19 July, Iran seized the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero citing a “violation of international maritime rules.” The ship remained in Iranian custody until 17 September, when it was released.

    The owner of the Sabiti, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), said the boat suffered two explosions, “likely [caused] by missiles” between 5 a.m. and 5:20 a.m. on Friday. Earlier reports suggested that the missiles were fired from Saudi soil, but NIOC later refuted the claim. Damage sustained by the ship caused a large oil spill but the tanker was nonetheless able to reach a safe haven under its own power, according to the Mehr report.


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