General view of the Port of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, May 13, 2019. Picture: REUTERS/Satish Kumar
General view of the Port of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, May 13, 2019. Picture: REUTERS/Satish Kumar

Tehran — Iran has called attacks on ships in the Gulf “alarming”, after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia said several vessels including oil tankers were damaged in acts of sabotage off the Emirati coast.

“The incidents in the Sea of Oman are alarming and regrettable,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said on Monday in an English-language statement on the ministry's website, calling for a probe into the attacks and warning of "adventurism" by foreign players to disrupt maritime security.

On Sunday, the UAE said that four commercial vessels of various nationalities had been targeted by acts of sabotage off the UAE port of Fujairah.

Early on Monday, Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were damaged.

Fujairah port is the only terminal in the UAE located on the Arabian Sea coast, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, a global shipping route through which most Gulf oil exports pass, and which Iran has repeatedly threatened to close in case of a military confrontation with the US.

The incident comes amid rising tension between Iran and the US, which has strengthened its military presence in the region, including deploying a number of strategic B-52 bombers in response to alleged threats from Tehran.

It also comes as US secretary of state Mike Pompeo scrapped a stop Monday in Moscow to visit Brussels instead for talks with European officials on Iran.

Mousavi "called for clarifications" concerning the "exact dimensions" of Sunday's attacks on ships in the Gulf, the foreign ministry's statement said.

He said such incidents would have a "negative impact … on shipping safety and maritime security" in the Gulf.

He also "warned against plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security" and "called for the vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements", he added in the statement.

AFP