On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia said two oil-pumping stations of its main pipeline were hit by explosive-laden drones, which caused a fire at the No. 8 station with limited damage. On Monday, a US official familiar with USA intelligence had said Iran was a leading candidate for the tanker sabotage but the United States did not have conclusive proof.
"With rising tensions between Iran and the USA, and with significant naval build-up in the region, markets are sensitive to news and can be tipped by the smallest signs of a conflict", said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive of Sun Global Investments. In retaliation, Tehran declared last week that it would restart enriching uranium at higher levels if the worldwide powers do not negotiate fresh terms for the deal.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a Sunni Arab military coalition against the Yemeni Shiite Houthi rebels since March 2015 to support the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi who was forced into exile in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
A UAE official had told Reuters that Saudi Arabia and Norway were also involved. "Our goal is to respond to the crimes they are committing everyday against the Yemeni people". United States intelligence sources have alleged Iran is behind the unexplained attacks, but added Washington does not have enough proof to back that claim.
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter and OPEC kingpin, said two pumping stations had been targeted early Tuesday.
The conflict in Yemen is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
May 9: The European Union urges Iran to respect the nuclear deal and says it plans to continue trading with the country despite USA sanctions.
The two oil pumping stations are more than 500 miles from Yemen's northern border with the kingdom.
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The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, meanwhile, ordered all non-essential, non-emergency government staff on Wednesday to leave Iraq immediately amid escalating tensions with Iran.
However, Trump later denied a New York Times report that he is considering sending 120,000 troops to counter Iran.
USA national security agencies said they believe proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran may have been responsible for the tanker attacks rather than Iranian forces themselves. A supply-disruption could also lead the United States to boost its oil output, he said.
Iranian officials have said that they could reach 20% enrichment within four days.
John Bolton, the White House national security adviser and a longtime Iran hawk, announces the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force in response to "a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings", without providing details. "We have been bullied by Iran, we have seen aggressive Iranian actions in the region".
An unidentified group reportedly sabotaged two of its oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Images of the Norwegian ship, which the company said was "not in any danger of sinking", showed damage similar to what the firm described.
- A senior military officer in the US -backed coalition fighting the Islamic State group says "there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria". The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation and thus spoke on condition of anonymity.
The attacks occur amid a war of words between Washington and Tehran over sanctions and US military presence in the region.