US assessment: Iran behind attack on ships in UAE

American military team assessing attack on commercial ships off UAE coast blames Iran or Iranian-backed proxies.

Tags: UAE US-Iran
Elad Benari ,

Map of Dubai, satellite view, United Arab Emirates
Map of Dubai, satellite view, United Arab Emirates

An American military team assessing blasts that damaged four commercial ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday has blamed Iran or Iranian-backed proxies using explosive charges, a source told Fox News on Monday.

Each ship had a 5-to-10-foot hole in it, near or just below the water line, a US official had earlier told The Associated Press. A Norwegian-flagged vessel, two Saudi oil tankers and a bunkering tanker flagged in Sharjah, one of the UAE's seven emirates, all suffered similar damage Sunday.

The UAE asked the US to help investigate the damage, which Gulf officials have characterized as sabotage. UAE's state media said Sunday there had been "no injuries or fatalities on board the vessels" and "no spillage of harmful chemicals or fuel."

The US has warned ships that "Iran or its proxies" could be targeting maritime traffic in the region, and America has moved additional ships and aircraft into the region.

Earlier on Monday, the Saudi Energy Minister said that two of the ships that were attacked were Saudi oil tankers that were en route to the United States.

The minister, Khalid al-Falih, said the two tankers were hit in what he called “a sabotage attack”. The attack caused “significant damage” to the ships, he added.

The incidents come after the US issued a warning suggesting that Iran and its allies could target shipping in the region.

Last week, the US military deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Middle East in a move that US officials said was made to counter “clear indications” of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump warned that Iran would “suffer greatly” if it targeted US interests.

“We’ll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it will be a very bad mistake. If they do anything they will suffer greatly,” he told reporters.

Last Thursday, Trump urged Iran’s leaders to talk with him about giving up their nuclear program but also made clear he could not rule out a military confrontation with the Islamic Republic.

On Friday, the deputy leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ political bureau stressed that Iran will not engage in talks with the US and added that the United States would never “dare” to attack the Islamic Republic.

“We will not negotiate. There will be no negotiations on any issue with the US and the US will not dare to attack Iran,” said the senior leader, Yadollah Javani.

Later on Friday, a senior Iranian cleric warned that the US navy fleet deployed to the region could be “destroyed with one missile”.