A cargo ship is seen moored at the port of Fujairah in the Gulf Emirate on May 13, 2019. (AFP / KARIM SAHIB)
CAIRO – 16 May 2019: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Norway have notified the United Nations about the sabotage attack that targeted four commercial ships in the territorial waters of the UAE on May 12.
In a written statement, the trio jointly said the attack “posed a threat to the safety and security” of international shipping and maritime navigation. It said no one was injured, but the hulls of at least three of the four ships were damaged.
Two of the vessels were Saudi-owned, one was Norwegian and the fourth was an Emirati oil tanker.
Details around the alleged acts of sabotage off the coast of the UAE’s port of Fujairah remain unclear. The joint statement does not say who they suspect was responsible. It said the three countries, working with international partners, are investigating.
While Gulf officials have declined to say who they suspected was responsible, the attack demonstrated the raised risks for shippers in a region vital to global energy supplies as tensions are increasing between the US and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.
Earlier, the US has warned sailors of the potential for attacks on commercial sea traffic, and regional allies of the United Arab Emirates condemned the sabotage as the tankers were off the coast of the UAE port city of Fujairah.
A US official in Washington, without offering any evidence, told the AP that an American military team’s initial assessment indicated Iran or Iranian allies used explosives to blow holes in the ships. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation, agreed to reveal the findings only if not quoted by name. The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which patrols the Mideast and operates from a base in Fujairah, has repeatedly declined to comment.
The US already had warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Arabian Gulf to counter alleged, still-unspecified threats from Tehran.