Singapore Calls On Iran To Investigate Tanker Incident

reuters logoThe Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said on Monday that it has requested the Iranian maritime authorities to investigate an incident last week when Iranian vessels fired shots at a Singapore-flagged tanker in the Gulf.

Alpine Eternity, the vessel that came under fire, had collided with an Iranian oil drilling platform in March, which triggered a call from Iran to its neighbours to seize the ship and hand it over to Iran.

Singapore’s MPA said that it requested its Iranian counterpart prevent future recurrences, as the freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce are of critical importance to Singapore and other countries.

Representation Image -Photgraph by Muhammad Huzairei
Representation Image -Photgraph by Muhammad Huzairei

“Such interference with navigational rights is a serious violation of international law,” it said in a statement, adding that Singapore was deeply concerned by such actions.

Background

Iranian naval vessels fired shots at a Singapore-flagged tanker in the Gulf on Thursday, in what appeared to be Iran’s latest attempt to settle a legal dispute by force with passing commercial vessels, U.S. officials said.

The incident unnerved the shipping industry just as President Barack Obama met with Gulf allies to try to allay their concerns that Iran would be empowered by a deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the West lifting sanctions.

Two weeks ago, Iranian patrol ships diverted a Marshall Islands-flagged container vessel from the Strait of Hormuz to settle a years-old debt case.

Shipping industry officials said they were bracing for the likelihood of even more tensions at sea, which could lead to a spike in shipping costs.

The episode in the Gulf coincided with mounting concern over an Iranian cargo ship headed to Yemen. A Saudi Arabia-led coalition has imposed an air and maritime blockade to stop weapons supplies reaching the Iran-allied Houthi rebels.

Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri, Deputy Chief of Iran’s Armed Forces, warned of war if the ship, which Tehran says is carrying humanitarian supplies, was attacked.

Still, the Pentagon on Thursday said Iran had so far at least refrained from dispatching warships to accompany the cargo vessel, despite announcing plans to do so.

 (Reporting by Rujun Shen; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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