Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday that two Saudi oil tankers were targeted on Sunday in “a sabotage attack” off the coast of Fujairah, part of the United Arab Emirates, threatening the security of global oil supplies.
One of the two vessels was on its way to be loaded with Saudi crude oil from the port of Ras Tanura, to be delivered to state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco’s customers in the United States, Falih said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.
On Sunday, the UAE foreign ministry said four commercial vessels were targeted by “sabotage operations” near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates without causing casualties. It gave no details of the nature of the sabotage.''
Emirati officials have declined to elaborate on the nature of the sabotage or say who might have been responsible. However, the reports come as the U.S. has warned ships that "Iran or its proxies" could be targeting maritime traffic in the region, and as America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged threats from Tehran.
Tensions have risen in the year since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, restoring American sanctions that have pushed Iran's economy into crisis.
Last week, Iran warned it would begin enriching uranium at higher levels in 60 days if world powers failed to negotiate new terms for the deal.
Underling the regional risk, the general-secretary of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council described the alleged sabotage as a "serious escalation" in an overnight statement.
"Such irresponsible acts will increase tension and conflicts in the region and expose its peoples to great danger," Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani said. Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen's internationally recognized government similarly condemned the alleged sabotage.