UAE Turns Down Plea to Accept Seized Ship Smuggling Iraqi Oil
UAE authorities have turned down a request from the US-led "Multinational Interception Force" to allow an intercepted vessel carrying more than 2,000 metric tons of Iraqi oil into its territorial waters, reported the Gulf News.
The paper said the request was turned down because of the ship's poor condition.
The paper quoted Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, minister of state for foreign affairs, as saying that the vessel had been intercepted for violating a UN embargo on Iraq.
"The authorities have refused to receive the ship as it was in a bad condition and was about to sink along with its 2,800 tons of oil shipment, which would pose a serious environmental threat," Sheikh Hamdan was quoted as saying.
He said the vessel was anchored 50 nautical miles off the UAE shore.
The US naval force had pumped out the water that was leaking into the ship and saved it from sinking.
Sheikh Hamdan, according to the paper, also said that UAE authorities had asked the ship's owner to send another tanker to offload the oil and auction it to raise funds for pollution clean-up operations.
He also warned vessel owners involved in smuggling of Iraqi oil of dire consequences, saying: "The UAE will take strict measures against violators. We will not get lenient in such matters."
The UAE has introduced environmental laws that include the death penalty and fines.
The laws were introduced after several vessels ran aground and caused marine environmental disasters in the UAE's territorial waters.
In April, a vessel carrying Iraqi oil sank off Jebel Ali, freeing hundreds of tons of oil to damage the marine life and the shoreline.
The Georgian-flagged Zainab was carrying 1,300 metric tons of fuel when it sank 16.5 nautical miles north of Jebel Ali on April 14.
According to the paper, over the past few years there have been more than three marine disasters in UAE waters caused by vessels carrying smuggled oil – Albawaba.com
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