A British-flag tanker was attacked Monday night and set on fire, apparently by Iranian gunboats off an Iranian-held island in the northern Persian Gulf, shipping salvage sources reported.
Two members of the crew were reported missing in the attack on the 102,799-ton tanker Gentle Breeze, the sources said.The latest attack was reported as Iraqi warplanes bombed targets deep inside Iran and Iran's president prepared to press his government's case for the United Nations to brand Iraq the aggressor in the 7-year-old war.
President Reagan addressed the General Assembly on Monday and urged international sanctions against Iran if it rejects a U.N.-sponsored cease- fire.
The Gentle Breeze was sailing empty en route to Kuwait when the attack occurred, said the sources, who insisted on anonymity.
It took place about 9 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT) about 20 miles west of Farsi, a small island that is used by Iranian Revolutionary Guards for speedboat attacks against neutral shipping in the area.
Salvage executives had earlier predicted more Iranian attacks on neutral shipping after Iraqi planes hit the Iranian oil shuttle tanker Khark-2 off the Kharg Island oil terminal in the northern gulf late Sunday.
The attack on the Gentle Breeze occurred hours after the Gas Prince, one of 10 Kuwaiti tankers reflagged by the United States, was reported by witnesses to have moved from the offshore loading terminal where it had been moored for most of last week. That could indicate it was making a southbound trip down the gulf under U.S. Navy escort.
The voyage would take it past Farsi island.
The location of the 46,723-ton liquefied gas tanker Gas Prince at the time of Monday night's attack was not known. Shipping officials in Kuwait, asking not to be named, confirmed that the Gas Prince had left the anchorage but declined to say where it was.
U.S. officials refuse comment on ship movements as a matter of policy.
A Baghdad military communique, in reporting the latest Iraqi air attacks, said raids aimed at Iran's "economic lifeline" will continue "until the Iranian regime yields to the international community's calls for peace."
President Ali Khamenei is the most senior Iranian official to visit the United States since the fall of the Shah in 1979. He is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly today.
The Iranians consider today to be the seventh anniversary of the start of the war in the gulf, when Iraqi forces crossed the border into Iran.
The Iraqis date the war from Sept. 4, 1980, when Iranian artillery shelled border villages in a dispute over the Shatt al-Arab waterway, the southern boundary between the two countries.
The official Iraqi News Agency, monitored in Nicosia, Cyprus, said Iraqi jets carried out a series of coordinated midday raids on the Ezfeh pumping station, which supplies Tehran's petroleum needs, and a power plant and factory near Bakhtaran in northwest Iran.
The agency, quoting a military communique, said the planes "scored accurate and effective hits" and returned safely, "leaving their targets burning."
Tehran Radio, also monitored in Nicosia, acknowledged that Iraqi planes hit "industrial targets" in northwest Iran, but did not mention an attack near Tehran.
Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency, monitored in Cyprus, reported several civilians killed or wounded in the Bakhtaran raids.
In the gulf, shipping salvage executives predicted Iranian retaliatory attacks on neutral shipping after Iraqi planes hit the 231,712-ton Iranian tanker Khark-2 off Kharg Island oil terminal in the northern gulf late Sunday.
The Khark-2, owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co., was hit by a missile, but the extent of damage was not revealed.