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16 Jul, 2019 19:54

Tehran: Oil tanker broke down in Persian Gulf, towed by Iran forces for repairs

Tehran: Oil tanker broke down in Persian Gulf, towed by Iran forces for repairs

Iranian forces came to the aid of an oil tanker stranded in the Persian Gulf, a foreign ministry spokesman has said. The tanker is presumed to be the same Panama-registered vessel missing from radar screens since Saturday.

The tanker, Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Tuesday, “was in trouble due to technical defects in the Persian Gulf,” the state ISNA agency reported. Mousavi said that Iranian forces towed the ship into Iranian waters, adding that “the necessary repairs will be done.”

While Mousavi did not name the tanker, his statement appears to be the first public acknowledgment from an Iranian official of the missing Emirati-based tanker ‘Riah.’ The vessel departed either Dubai or Sharjah ports last week and sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, before deviating from its course and pointing towards Iran. Shortly before midnight on Saturday, its tracking signal abruptly turned off.

Also on rt.com Mystery in the Persian Gulf: Vanishing oil tanker near Iran fuels speculation

The disappearance of the ‘Riah’ fueled media speculation earlier on Tuesday. A spokesman for the shipping company that owns the tanker – Sharjah-based Mouj-al-Bahar General Trading – allegedly told TradeWinds that the ship had been “hijacked” by Iranian authorities, while CNN reported that unnamed US sources believed she’d been seized by the naval wing of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Attention turned to Tehran, especially as the ‘Riah’ vanished on the same day that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to respond to the UK’s seizure of an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar earlier this month. The incident also took place after several international tankers were attacked in the region in recent months, with Western leaders blaming Iran.

Emirati officials distanced themselves from the tanker’s crew, with a security spokesman telling local media that “the tanker in question is neither UAE owned nor operated, does not carry Emirati personnel, and did not emit a distress call. We are monitoring the situation.”

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