Iran's Armed Forces: Reports of Maritime Incidents West's New Adventurism
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Armed Forces Spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi blasted the recent contradictory reports of maritime incidents and hijacking in the Sea of Oman as Western “psychological warfare” meant to set the ground for new adventurism.
Brigadier General Shekarchi's remarks came on Tuesday after Reuters claimed that “Iran-backed forces” were believed to have seized an oil tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Citing maritime security sources, the report identified the seized vessel as the Panama-flagged asphalt/bitumen tanker Asphalt Princess.
Meanwhile, The Times of London newspaper quoted British sources as saying that they were “working on the assumption Iranian military or proxies boarded” the Asphalt Princess.
In a warning notice based on a third-party source, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) alleged a “potential hijack” and advised ships to exercise extreme caution around 60 nautical miles east of the UAE’s Fujairah emirate.
Early on Wednesday though, the same agency said the suspected hijacking of a ship in the Sea of Oman had ended and that the vessel was safe.
"Boarders have left the vessel. Vessel is safe. Incident complete," UKMTO tweeted, without making any clarifications surrounding the incident, and without naming the vessel involved in the alleged incident.
In a relevant development on Tuesday, Iranian Ambassador to London Mohsen Baharvand blasted the recent accusations lodged by the UK concerning Iran's involvement in an attack on a ship in the Sea of Oman.
"London’s decision to blame the Islamic republic for last week’s assault on the 'Mercer Street' was a very premature reaction," Baharvand said.
Criticizing the UK accusation against Iran, Baharvand said that the dispute should not damage relations between the two countries.
"We understand one of the British citizens has lost life and that is for everybody a regrettable act, but that doesn't mean you can put the blame immediately on one country. You have to investigate the case, you have to have evidence," Baharvand said.
A Briton and a Romanian were killed when at least one drone struck the MV Mercer Street, which is managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime, while it was off the coast of Oman.
Baharvand was earlier summoned to the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on Monday and in reaction to summoning Iran's ambassador, Iran foreign ministry summoned the British Chargé d'Affaires to lodge an official protest against the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab's allegations against Iran.
The Iranian foreign ministry strongly deplored the “baseless” allegations raised by Britain and the US about Iran’s involvement in an attack on an Israeli ship as “provocative” and “deeply regretting”, and warned them that it would not hesitate to give an immediate and powerful response to any hostile action.
The allegations of involvement in an attack on a ship off the coasts of Oman levelled by British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and its repetition by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken are “paradoxical, provocative, baseless and deeply regretting” and are strongly condemned by Iran, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday.
He added that Raab made such statements in a coordinated move with his American counterpart without presenting any evidence, and voiced surprise that the two top diplomats first raised allegations against Iran and then talked of the "possibility" of Iran's involvement.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran is a defender and supporter of safe and harmless shipping in the Persian Gulf and international waters, while it has the longest water borders in the Persian Gulf and is always ready to cooperate on providing maritime security with the regional countries," the spokesman stressed.
Meanwhile, he said that Iran considers the presence and intervention of trans-regional powers in the waters of the Persian Gulf and the littoral states as dangerous to the stability and security of the region.
"It is unfortunate that these countries (Britain and the US) have kept mum and actually supported the terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage against the Iranian commercial ships in the Red Sea and international waters, and now in a clearly politically-motivated move they have raised false allegations against the Islamic Republic of Iran. If these countries have any evidence to prove their false claims, they should present it," the spokesman said.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran does not hesitate in protecting its security and national interests and will respond to any possible adventurous move immediately powerfully and seriously,” Khatibzadeh concluded.
In relevant remarks on Monday, Iranian First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri disclosed that Washington and Tel Aviv have raided Iranian ships in international waters during Donald Trump's presidency and damaged 12 Iranian oil tankers in bomb attacks.
“Trump and his team stood to prevent us from selling even one barrel of oil,” Jahangiri said, addressing a meeting of high-ranking directors and managers of President Rouhani's administration in Tehran on Monday.
“They exploded or damaged 12 of our oil tankers. The Israelis stepped onto one of our oil tankers and exploded it,” he added.
In April, the Iranian foreign ministry confirmed a blast at the country’s logistical ship, Saviz, in the Red Sea.
"According to a previous official announcement and coordination with the International Maritime Organization as the reference body, the Saviz civilian ship was stationed in the Red Sea region," Khatibzadeh said on April 7.
"This ship practically acted as a logistics station of Iran in the Red Sea, and therefore specifications and mission of this ship had previously been officially announced to the organization," the spokesman noted.
Meantime, a US official told The New York Times that Israel notified the US that Israeli forces attacked the Iranian ship around 7:30 a.m. local time on April 6.
After such attacks, Israeli officials raised allegations against Iran, claiming the country’s involvement in attacks against the Israeli-owned ships.
In a latest case, an oil tanker operated by an Israeli-owned company came under attack off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, the British military said Friday, with the company later confirming the reports.
The vessel is operated by Zodiac Maritime, a London-based company belonging to Israeli tycoon Eyal Ofer.
Israeli officials have claimed without citing any proof that the attack appeared to have been carried out by several unmanned Iranian drones that crashed into living quarters underneath the ship’s command center, or bridge.
The Iranian foreign ministry dismissed Israel’s claim that Tehran has attacked an Israeli ship near Oman, describing it a childish blame game.
“The illegitimate existence of the Quds occupying regime should desist from raising baseless allegations. It is not the first time that the regime raises such allegations. These allegations are childish and within the framework of the rented and famous lobby of the Quds occupying regime,” Khatibzadeh told reporters in a press conference in Tehran on Sunday.
“The officials of the Zionist regime should know that they cannot cure their pains with such blame games,” he added.
Khatibzadeh said that the Israeli regime is passing bitter days of its life and puts the blame of its problems on others, and added, “Wherever the Quds occupying regime has set its foot, it has brought insecurity, violence, terror and war, and for this reason, those who paved the ground for the regime's presence in this region should be blamed.”