Missile attack on oil depot heats Gulf tensions

The escalating cycle of strike and counter-strike continued to bring turmoil to the Gulf yesterday when a missile slammed into Kuwait's Sea Island oil terminal.

Shipping sources said the missile scored a direct hit on the export terminal 16km off the coast of the Arab emirate causing "bad damage" and injuring at least three people.

Iran had vowed to retaliate for an American action on two Iranian oil platforms on Monday; the American attack followed two missile strikes on tankers inside Kuwaiti waters last week.

The missile strike on Friday hit one of the tankers Kuwait recently reflagged under the Stars and Stripes to gain US Navy protection. Eighteen crewmen, including the American captain, were injured.

A US-owned supertanker was hit on the previous day, causing minor damage. The missiles in both instances were fired from Iran-held territory. The attacks provoked the US into retaliatory action on Monday this week when four US destroyers bombarded an oil platform in Iran's Rostam offshore field and sent special forces to raid a second nearby platform, destroying equipment.

"It is not going to impress Khomeini," said one senior Arab diplomat after the attack. "The Gulf is like a bun ring. All the Americans are doing is sticking pins into a bun and that makes the bull madder."

Iran's leaders swiftly vowed revenge and undertook it on the Kuwaiti terminal undeterred by warnings that further attacks would bring a tougher response. Asked if the US was prepared for a major war with Iran, Weinberger said: "Well, we are prepared I think for whatever eventualities emerge from this situation, but we don't look on it as war."

Meanwhile, Lebanon's pro-Iranian Jihad (Holy War) organisation threatened yesterday to launch attacks against the US and Europe and said Muslims were preparing for suicide missions.

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail


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