By Ross Ibbetson
Source: Daily Mail
Insurance report says ‘highly likely’ Iran is responsible for attack on oil tankers
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are blamed for damaging the ships last Sunday
Underwater drones carrying 65-100lbs of high-grade explosives are suspected
The assault took place amid flaring tensions between Washington and Tehran
A secret insurance industry report has found Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are ‘highly likely’ to have been behind a submarine drone attack on tankers in the Gulf.
Last Sunday four tankers, including two Saudi ships off Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates were damaged, amid flaring tensions over Washington’s sanctions on Tehran.
Analysis of shrapnel fragments has found the assault was likely carried out by a boat operating close by which released underwater drones carrying 65-110lbs of high-grade explosives to detonate on impact.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Norway are investigating the attacks, which also hit a UAE and a Norwegian-flagged vessel.
Earlier this month, Washington decided to try and cut Iranian oil exports to zero which has caused an escalation in rhetoric and threats of war from Tehran, as US warships patrol the Gulf.
Iran has in the past threatened to block all exports through the Strait of Hormuz, through which an estimated fifth of the world’s oil passes.
According to The Norwegian Shipowners’ Mutual War Risks Insurance Association (DNK), it was highly likely that the attacks had been intended to send a message to the United States and its allies that Iran did not need to block the Strait to disrupt freedom of navigation in the region.
DNK said Iran was also likely to continue similar low-scale attacks on merchant vessels in the coming period.
Iranian officials and the Revolutionary Guards’ spokesman were not available for comment.
Tehran had already rejected allegations of involvement and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had said that ‘extremist individuals’ in the U.S. government were pursuing dangerous policies. No one claimed responsibility for the attacks.
DNK’s managing director Svein Ringbakken declined to comment, except to say that ‘this is an internal and confidential report produced to inform shipowner members of the DNK about the incidents in Fujairah and the most likely explanation.’
The UAE has not blamed anyone for the attack.
Two U.S. government sources said this week that U.S. officials believed Iran had encouraged Houthi militants or Iraq-based Shi’ite militias to carry out the attack.
In a joint letter seen by Reuters and sent to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Norway said the attacks had been deliberate and could have resulted in casualties, spillages of oil or harmful chemicals.
‘The attacks damaged the hulls of at least three of the vessels, threatened the safety and lives of those on board, and could have led to an environmental disaster,’ the letter said.
Last month, the United States designated the entire Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organisation.
Washington had previously designated entities and individuals connected with the Revolutionary Guard, which controls vast segments of Iran’s economy.
Tehran responded by designating the regional United States Central Command (CENTCOM) as a terrorist organisation.