Baghdad, Jan. 2, 2021 Iraqi explosives experts on Saturday defused a marine mine attached to the hull of an oil tanker in the Gulf waters, the Iraqi military said in a statement.
The experts from the ministry of interior and Iraqi Navy, were able to defuse the limpet mine and launched an investigation into the incident, the Joint Operations Command (JOC) statement said.
The JOC had on Friday said that a marine mine was found on the side of the tanker on Thursday afternoon while it was fuelling another ship in the international Gulf waters.
It added that explosives experts were dispatched to the scene, which was about 51 km away from Iraq’s oil ports, to defuse the limpet mine.
Early on Saturday, Iraq’s State Organization for Marketing of Oil (SOMO) said in a statement that oil exports from its southern ports continued according to the planned rates in spite of the discovery.
It said that the oil tanker with the limpet mine was chartered by SOMO.
It said the tanker was chartered as a single-point mooring (SPM) to store the black oil produced by Iraqi refineries to be loaded onto oil tankers of international companies that buy it.
The tanker has been anchored in the al-Mekhtaf area off the Iraqi port of Khor al-Zubair since Nov. 25, SOMO said.
The incident came days before the first anniversary of a U.S. drone attack on a convoy near Baghdad International Airport, which killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.
Also killed was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces, which caused heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. in the region.