An Iranian tanker has been hit by suspected missile strikes, causing oil to leak into the Red Sea.
The explosion damaged the state-owned supertanker called Sinopa as it travelled near the Saudi port of Jeddah this morning.
Tehran has called it a ‘terrorist act’.
The damaged ship belongs to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and was reportedly en-route to Syria with a cargo of one million barrels of oil.
It was hit by two separate explosions around 60 miles from the coast and the firm said they were ‘probably caused by missile strikes.’
Photos published by Iranian media show a huge plume of smoke rising from the tanker, formerly known as Susangird.
It said the explosion damaged two storerooms and caused a leak of oil into the Red Sea.
The state TV broadcast added that the ship’s crew were all safe and the vessel was ‘completely stable.’
A source told Iranian news agency ISNA: ‘Experts believe it was a terrorist attack.’
The US Navy’s 5th Fleet oversees the region and they said they were ‘aware of reports’ but declined to comment further.
Tensions have been high between regional foes Iran and Saudi Arabia since an attack on the Kingdom’s two oil facilities on September 14.
That caused a shut down that halved Saudi’s oil output – more than 5% of the global oil supply.
It triggered the biggest surge in oil prices since 1991.
Yemen’s Houthi group claimed responsibility for those attacks but the US said they originated in Iran.
Tehran, which supports the Houthi group in Yemen’s war, has denied any involvement.
Friday’s explosion comes after the US has alleged that in past months Iran has attacked oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, something denied by Tehran.
The explosion could push tensions between Iran and the US even higher, more than a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a nuclear deal and imposed crushing sanctions.
Since then, there have been a number of incidents involving Iran and oil tankers around the Strait of Hormuz – a major strategic shipping route.
One of those included the storming of a British-flagged tanker by Iran.
The Stena Impero was seized in July for alleged marine violations two weeks after Britain impounded an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar for a suspected breach of EU sanctions.
Tehran released the tanker last month.
Source: Read Full Article