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BANGKOK 17 August 2019 21:34
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webfact

U.S. officials to brief diplomats on maritime security initiative for Gulf

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U.S. officials to brief diplomats on maritime security initiative for Gulf

 

2019-07-17T235538Z_1_LYNXNPEF6G250_RTROPTP_4_MIDEAST-IRAN-BRITAIN.JPG

FILE PHOTO: Oil tankers pass through the Strait of Hormuz, December 21, 2018. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials will speak to members of the Washington diplomatic corps on Friday about a new initiative to promote freedom of navigation and maritime security around the Strait of Hormuz, the State Department said on Wednesday.

 

One fifth of the world's oil supply transits through this area and navigating freely through the strait is critical for the stability of the international economy.

 

"A multinational effort is needed to address this global challenge and ensure the safe passage of vessels," the State Department said in a statement, adding the briefing would be conducted by Defence and State Department personnel and would be closed to the news media.

 

On July 14, the MT Riah disappeared from ship tracking maps when its transponder was switched off in the Strait of Hormuz.

 

U.S. officials say they are unsure whether the oil tanker was seized by Iran or rescued after facing mechanical faults as Tehran asserts.

 

Iran says it towed a vessel into its waters from the strait after the ship issued a distress call. Although Tehran did not name the vessel, the Riah is the only ship whose recorded movements appear likely to match that description. ,

 

Iran has threatened to retaliate for the British seizure of an Iranian oil tanker accused of violating sanctions on Syria. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has branded the British action "piracy".

 

(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-07-18

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22 hours ago, webfact said:

U.S. officials say they are unsure whether the oil tanker was seized by Iran or rescued after facing mechanical faults as Tehran asserts.

U.S. apparently has almost no information despite "closely monitoring" shipping through the Strait of Hormuz. Yet, the US State Department rushes to insist Iran must free the ship and its crew and stop harassing vessels in and around the Strait of Hormuz.

What the Iranian government is saying:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/iran-seizes-foreign-oil-tanker-smuggling-oil-crew-arrested-190718112357048.html

  • the Panamanian-flagged tanker Riah is used in the Strait of Hormuz "for fuelling other vessels" (ship is not a crude oil tanker)
  • it crossed into Iranian territorial waters
  • the tanker's automatic identification system had then stopped sending signals
  • it was "smuggling one million litres of fuel"* from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers (* that's refined oil, not crude oil produced from Middle East oil fields)
  • the Iranian Revolutionary Guard did not confirm whether the vessel was the same one that it said its forces assisted "with technical failure" after it sent out a distress call. (as a fuel smuggler a "technical failure of transponder might be beneficial)

Iran does have the right to control piracy within its territorial waters without foreign nations permissions. But if the U.S. is looking for an excuse to deny Iran any access to its territorial waters, it might under Trump not rely on facts for justification. 

 

 

 

 

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I somehow doubt those U.S. officials are going to enjoy an enthusiastic reception from the members of the diplomatic corp who count.

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On 7/19/2019 at 6:20 AM, Srikcir said:

the US State Department rushes to insist Iran must free the ship and its crew and stop harassing vessels in and around the Strait of Hormuz.

Watching Aljazeera and heard that the tanker Riah (a small product tanker of around 1,000 gt) that was flagged under Panama as a "convenience" (true tanker ownership unknown) was actually deregistered by Panama two months prior for violating international regulations. Thus, the tanker was flying under a false Panama flag. That certainly adds to Iran's justification to investigate the tanker's presence in the Hormuz Strait.

 

What is further curious is that according to Aljazeera, Riah had left Saudi Arabia prior to its interdiction by Iran. Given that Saudi Arabia must have authority to assure foreign flagged vessels in its ports are legally flagged (ie., for the purposes of financial liabilitiy), it would be either completely incompetent or negligent for S.A. not to know that Riah was deregistered by Panama or some degree of collusion was involved to ignore its false flag. This would make the U.S. demand for Iran's immediate release of the vessel look very irresponsible, ie., not knowing the facts or relying solely on the representations of S.A. for information regarding the Riah.

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No worry. Biff has already forgotten about the tankers and the Iranians. He just got out of bed a few minutes ago and is now spending his time bashing the Fed again.

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