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US team suggests Iran behind ship sabotage

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Al-Falih condemned the latest attacks, along with the Sunday attacks against four ships including two Saudi oil vessels near the port of Fujairah, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for attempting to destabilize the global energy supply.

Saudi Minister of Energy Khalid Al-Falih said in a statement that the attacks caused a fire at the No. 8 station with limited damage.

One of the earliest attacks on oil installations and pipelines in Saudi Arabia was staged by auto suicide bombers who detonated in an oil refinery in eastern Saudi Arabia, killing a security man and thwarting Saudi Arabia in November.

However, a clash could prove bearish if it prompts Saudi Arabia to ramp up supply "given the kingdom's sizable amount of unused output capacity", Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates said in a note. In the same year, terrorists from the same group attacked property at the SADAF Petrochemical Complex in the eastern Saudi city of Jubail. The attacks did not interrupt production or export of Saudi oil.

The Trump administration's sanctions are created to choke off Iran's oil exports, its main source of revenues, in an effort to force Iran to accept more stringent limits on its nuclear and missile programs.

Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader who has final say on all state matters, was quoted by state TV as telling senior officials that his country won't negotiate with the United States, calling such talks "poison". "Houthis tried to appear non-violent in front of the world and that they are supporting peace through announcing unilateral withdrawal from Hodeidah's ports just two days ago", said Ibrahim.

The United States also is deploying an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers into the region in response to the still-unspecified Iran threat, further ramping up tensions a year after President Donald Trump withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. The U.S. has recently warned ships that "Iran or its proxies" could be targeting maritime traffic in the region.

Responding to the event, Mr Philippe told a French parliamentary session on Tuesday: "These acts of sabotage ... against four ships in the Arabian sea and near the UAE's territorial waters are obviously preoccupying".

Satellite images provided to the AP by Colorado-based Maxar Technologies showed a boom surrounding the Emirati oil tanker A. Michel, indicating the possibility of an oil leak.

Later, in a rare public rebuttal of an allied military officer, U.S. Central Command said Ghika's remarks "run counter to the identified credible threats" from Iranian-backed forces in the Mideast. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation and thus spoke on condition of anonymity.

Iran has rejected the allegation and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that "extremist individuals" in the USA government were pursuing unsafe policies, amid a war of words with Washington over sanctions.

The Ministry of Defense said the Méndez Núñez, with 215 sailors aboard, will not cross the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf with the USS Abraham Lincoln.

The market was also holding out some hope for U.S.

Karimi reported from Tehran, Iran.

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