Claims on Iranian tanker shot by missile sheer lies: Minister

IRNA – It is a blatant lie that the Sanchi oil tanker was hit by a rocket or its cargo belonged to North Korea, said the Iranian president’s envoy for the incident on Tuesday.

‘The South Korean government has officially announced that the cargo of the sunken Sanchi belonged to them, and the Iranian mission inspected and photographed the ship,’ Ali Rabiei, Iran’s Minister of Cooperative, Labor and Social Welfare, said while briefing reporters after his return from China.

Rabiei was appointed by President Hassan Rouhani to lead a special committee to investigate the Iranian tanker’s tragic incident.

‘Telling lies such as radars of the two ships were turned off, Sanchi was targeted by a missile, or no radar signals was received by China show that the claimers have no knowledge about international relations or navigation at sea,’ said the minister.

‘If a US missile has hit the vessel, why didn’t any radar detect it?’ asked Rabiei.

He also said that in an similar incident some time ago, a US warship had a collision in the same region with a ship carrying petrochemical cargo and some people were killed in the accident.

Rabiei had earlier said at the end of a meeting in Shanghai that the Chinese officials did all within their power, but they failed to control fire due to its large scale and gas condensate consignment aboard the tanker.

He further noted that the issue would be pursued seriously and the black box of the vessel will be examined carefully to restore Iran’s rights in this regard.

The Iranian tanker, carrying gas condensates, collided with a Chinese freight ship off east coast of China on January 6, and all the 32 crew members went missing. Three dead bodies were later found during a rescue operation.

The 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshi sailors on board the tanker were unfortunately killed due to inhaling toxic gases and the huge size of the fire which engulfed the tanker since the onset of the tragic incident.