Iran warns U.S. against tanker seizure attempt

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019   •   407

Iranian Foreign Minister’s Spokesman Abbas Mousavi (Image grabbed from Reuters footage)

An Iranian tanker headed through the Mediterranean towards Greece on Monday (August 19) after it was released from detention off Gibraltar as Tehran warned against any U.S. move to seize the vessel again.

The Grace 1, renamed the Adrian Darya 1, left anchorage off Gibraltar about 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Sunday (August 18).

Refinitiv ship tracking data showed early on Monday that the vessel was heading to Kalamata in Greece.

The seizure of the tanker by British Royal Marines near Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion it was carrying oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions led to a weeks-long stand-off between Tehran and the West. It also heightened tensions on international oil shipping routes through the Gulf.

Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, lifted the detention order on Thursday (August 22) but the next day a federal court in Washington issued a warrant for the seizure of the tanker, the oil it carries and nearly $1 million.

Iran on Monday said any U.S. attempt to seize the tanker would have “heavy consequences” and that a crisis in Iran’s ties with Britain would not be over until the vessel reached its destination. (Reuters)

(Production: Kristian Brunse)

Iran’s foreign ministry rejects U.S. accusations of Saudi oil attack

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 16, 2019

Iran’s foreign ministry on Monday (September 16) rejected U.S. accusations that Iran was behind an attack on Saudi oil plants and said the allegations were part of a “maximum falsehood policy”.

It comes as the United States said it was “locked and loaded” for a potential response. The strikes were claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi made the remarks during a weekly news conference in Tehran.

Mousavi also said President Hassan Rouhani would not meet with U.S. President Donald Trump at the United Nations, a day after the White House left open the possibility of talks between them.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran were already running high because of a long-running dispute between the two nations over Iran’s nuclear program that led the United States to impose sweeping sanctions. (REUTERS)

DFA: Tugboat manned by Filipino crew seized in Persian Gulf

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 9, 2019

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported that a tugboat manned by 12 Filipino crew was seized in the Persian Gulf due to alleged oil smuggling.

Ambassador to Iran Wilfredo C. Santos said the tugboat was seized on September 7 and that an investigation is on-going.

“He [Santos] said that Coast Guard authorities relayed that an investigation is on going on the alleged oil smuggling of the crew, and once this has been established, the matter will be referred to the local court,” the DFA bulletin reads.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Department is awaiting further updates on the issue including the condition of the 12 seafarers. The department is also prepared to provide assistance when needed.—AAC

Walmart to stop selling ammunition for handguns, assault-style weapons

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 4, 2019

 Walmart Inc said on Tuesday (September 3) it would discontinue sales of ammunition for handguns and some assault-style rifles in stores across the United States, in response to the recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

The largest U.S. arms retailer, which has been under pressure to change its policies on gun sales, also said it would discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, the only state where it still sells these guns.

Walmart has already ended sales of assault rifles and raised the minimum age for gun purchases to 21. The latest move will leave it focused on weapons for hunting, including deer rifles, shotguns, and related ammunition.

The company will stop selling all handgun ammunition and some short-barrel rifle ammunition, such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber after clearing current stock.

While short-barrel ammunition is commonly used in some hunting rifles for small animals such as prairie dogs, they can also be used in military-style weapons with high-capacity magazines.

The retailer said it took the action following the death of 22 people in a mass shooting in a Walmart store in Texas as well as deadly shootings in Ohio and Saturday’s incident in Midland and Odessa, Texas.

Just last month, the company said it would not change its policy on selling firearms even as it took down signs and playable demos of violent video games.

“As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said in a letter to Walmart’s associates. (REUTERS)

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