Iran has rejected claims that its naval forces seized an oil tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh termed reports about Iranian armed forces entering ships in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman "fake news," urging all sides to be cautious about news regarding maritime security in the region.
Media reports quoting unnamed maritime security sources said Iranian-backed forces were believed to have seized an oil tanker in the Gulf off the coast of the UAE.
The reports came hours after a British maritime trade agency said a "potential hijack" was underway near Fujairah, with at least four ships broadcasting warnings that they had lost control of their steering under unknown circumstances.
In a statement, Khatibzadeh said the incidents related to ships in the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea were "utterly suspicious," warning against what he termed "false propaganda" against Iran.
He expressed Iran’s commitment to regional stability and maritime security and said his country is willing to offer assistance in case of any maritime accidents in the region.
According to reports, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has also denied reports of Iran seizing a ship, calling it a "pretext for hostile action" against Tehran.
A news agency affiliated with Iran's top security agency, quoting a senior official, said the passage of commercial vessels was "quite normal" and naval sources of countries in the region had not reported any "uncontrollable incident.”
Tuesday's incident came less than a week after an Israeli tanker came under attack off the coast of Oman, killing two crew members. Israel, as well as the US and UK, blamed it on Iran, which quickly rejected the accusation.
It also came hours after Iran's new president Ebrahim Raeisi was officially endorsed by the country's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, in a ceremony attended by top civilian and military officials in Tehran.
Raeisi, a conservative cleric, has not given any reaction on the recent incidents so far, which have again escalated tensions between Iran and the West after months of efforts toward de-escalation./aa