Tensions are mounting in the Persian Gulf amid the United States’ show of force against Iran in the Persian Gulf as the anniversary of the assassination of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a targeted US Air Force extrajudicial killing approaches.
Iraq has delegated explosives experts to examine and deactivate a mine found on the hull of an oil storage oil tanker in waters alongside the Persian Gulf near the Iraqi coast, The Associated Press reported, citing local authorities.
According to the statement, a special team from Iraq’s Interior Ministry evacuated the vessel that was receiving fuel from storage. Experts are still working to neutralize the explosive device, identified as a limpet mine installed by special forces military divers on a ship’s hull under the waterline.
The mine was reportedly discovered by local maritime services on 31 December attached to the Liberian-flagged floating fuel tanker MT Pola, rented by a client of the state-owned Iraqi company State Oil Marketer (SOMO). The tanker is located some 28 nautical miles from Iraqi oil port of Basra.
Reports by Western media suggest that the development comes as relations are strained between the US and Iran amid a US military buildup in the Persian Gulf ahead the one-year commemoration of Soleimani’s assassination. Citing the possibility of revenge, throughout the last months Washington has sent Ohio-class submarine USS Georgia, a strike group led by the USS Nimitz which…