By Mehdi Sepahvand - Head of Political Desk

Iran dismisses claim tanker shot by missile 

January 16, 2018 - 20:36

TEHRAN – Iran has dismissed as “sheer lie” the claim that the oil tanker operated by the National Iranian Tanker Company has been hit by a rocket.

On Monday, Al Arabiya, a Saudi-owned television news channel, claimed the tanker had been shot as it was transferring cargo to North Korea.

“The oil tanker was headed to North Korea and not South Korea, which prompted the Americans to block it and sink the ship,” the Saudi news outlet said.

Denying the allegation, Ali Rabiee, labor minister and President Rouhani’s special envoy on the tanker incident, on Tuesday said: “The South Korean government has officially announced that the cargo of the sunken Sanchi belonged to them, and the Iranian mission inspected and photographed the ship.” 

“Such lies that the radars of the ships turned off, a missile shot, and not receiving any radar signals show that the claimers have no knowledge about international relations and navigation,” Rabiee stated.

“If an American missile had hit the vessel, why didn't any radar detect it?” asked Rabiei.

The oil tanker, called Sanchi, was carrying gas condensates to South Korea when it collided with a Chinese freight ship off east coast of China on January 6, and all the 32 crew members including two Bangladeshis went missing. Three dead bodies were later found during a rescue operation.

The crew were killed due to inhaling toxic gases and the huge size of the fire which engulfed the tanker since the onset of the tragic incident.

To repudiate unsubstantiated claims, the president’s special envoy said that some time ago in a similar incident, a U.S. warship had collided with a ship carrying petrochemical cargo and some people were killed in that accident. 

Rabiee, who led a special committee to investigate the incident, had earlier said at the end of the closing meeting of the committee in Shanghai that Chinese officials did all within their power, but they failed to control the fire due to its scale and gas condensate consignment aboard the tanker.

He further noted that the issue would be pursued seriously and the black box of the vessel will be examined carefully to restore Iran’s rights in this regard.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi also told ILNA on Tuesday that the sunken tanker was destined for South Korea.

As it has been repeatedly stated since the bitter incident occurred, the tanker’s destination was South Korea, and any rumors circulating on social media that say otherwise are completely false, Qassemi stressed.

The South Korean Ambassador to Tehran, Kim Seung Ho, also responded to rumors around the incident, confirming on Monday that the tanker’s destination was South Korea.


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