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The Iranian foreign ministry has called on the United States to “stop brutality” against its own people in the emergence of large protests across the nation succeeding the police killing in Minneapolis of another black man.
“To the American people: the world has heard your outcry over the state of oppression. The world is standing with you,” foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said at a news conference in Tehran on Monday.
“And to the American officials and police: stop violence against your people and let them breathe,” he told reporters in English.
Dozens of people have taken to the streets across the US in current days to protest against police cruelty and demand tougher, first-degree murder charges and more charges over the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25.
“We deeply regret to see the American people, who peacefully seek respect and no more violence, being suppressed indiscriminately and met with utmost violence,” Mousavi told reporters in English.
He also indicted the US, a longtime rival of Iran, of “practising violence and bullying at home and abroad”.
The most atimes violent protests in the US have gained universal coverage in Iranian media, especially on state television, which currently aired a programme indicting the US of institutional racism.
Iran was denounced by the US after deadly street violence that broke out in Iran in November during protests set of by an unexpected petrol price hike.
An Iranian news agency close to the elite Revolutionary Guard said on Saturday that there would be consequences if the United States acted “just like sea thiefs” against an Iranian fuel shipment to Venezuela.
*A senior official in President Donald Trump’s administration told Reuters News Agency last week the US was considering measures it could take in response to Iran’s shipment of fuel to crisis-stricken Venezuela.
The oil sectors of Iran and Venezuela, members of OPEC, are both under US sanctions. The Trump administration official declined to specify the measures being weighed, but said options would be presented to Trump.*
“If the United States, just like sea thiefs, intends to create insecurity on international waterways, it would be taking a dangerous risk, and that will certainly not go without repercussion,” Iran’s Nour news agency said.
Not Less than one tanker carrying fuel loaded at an Iranian port has set sail for Venezuela, as said by the vessel-tracking data from Refinitiv Eikon, which could help reduce an acute shortage of petrol in the South American country.
“Venezuela and Iran are both independent states that have had and will continue to have trade relations with each other,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei was quoted as saying by the YJC news website, linked to Iran’s state broadcaster.
“We sell goods and buy goods in return. This trade has nothing to do with anyone else. We have to sell our oil, and we have ways to do it,” Rabiei said, saying he had no information about the Venezuela-bound vessel.
An Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea was hit by two suspected rockets on Friday off the coast of Saudi Arabia, raising fears of further escalation in the already-volatile Gulf region. The National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) said in a statement the hull of the ship sustained two separate explosions about 100km (60 miles) off the Saudi port city of Jeddah.
It said the blasts – one at 5am local time (02:00 GMT) and the other at 5:30am (02:30 GMT) – were “probably caused by missile strikes”. Oil prices spiked 2 percent on the news. “All the ship’s crew are safe and the ship is stable too,” said NITC, the tanker’s owner, adding those on board were trying to repair the damage. The state-owned company said contrary to reports, “there is no fire aboard the ship and the ship is completely stable”.
Leaking oil had been stopped but it restarted once the vessel began moving again.
“Those behind the attack are responsible for the consequences of this dangerous adventure, including the dangerous environmental pollution caused,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state TV.
There was no immediate acknowledgement from Saudi Arabia about the blasts. Russia’s foreign ministry said it was too early to assign blame for the explosions.
Images of the oil tanker, identified as the Sabiti, circulated on Twitter, but Al Jazeera was not able to verify their authenticity.
The vessel last turned on its tracking devices in August near the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. Iranian tankers routinely turn off their trackers as US sanctions target the sale of Iran’s crude oil.
Lieutenant Pete Pagano, a spokesman for the US Navy’s 5th Fleet in the Middle East, said authorities were “aware of reports of this incident” but he declined to comment further.
Al Jazeera’s Zein Basravi, reporting from Tehran, said officials at the national oil company said the fire was put out.
According to the website Tankertrackers, the vessel was the largest-sized tanker, was fully loaded with one million barrels of oil, and “it does the Syria route”, said Basravi.
“This is the third time in the past six months that an Iranian tanker has been incapacitated in these waters,” he noted.