Tehran: An Iranian government spokesman has described as “cowardly” an attack on its oil tanker, which was hit in Red Sea waters off the coast of Saudi Arabia on Friday.
“Iran is avoiding haste, carefully examining what has happened and probing facts,” spokesman Ali Rabei was quoted as saying by the official news agency, IRNA.
He said Iran would respond after the facts had been studied. “An appropriate response will be given to the designers of this cowardly attack, but we will wait until all aspects of the plot are clarified,” he said.
Iranian media said the incident could stoke friction in a region rattled by attacks on tankers and oil installations since May.
The National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), which owns the Sabiti, said its hull was hit by two separate explosions off the Saudi port of Jeddah.
But the state-owned company denied reports the attack had originated from Saudi soil.
For its part, Saudi Arabia said it received a distress message on the same day from a damaged Iranian tanker in the Red Sea but the vessel kept moving and switched off its transponder before it could assist, state news agency SPA reported on Saturday.
SPA said the Sabiti tanker did not respond to many communications from the Saudi authorities.