A military spokesman for the Yemeni pro-government joint forces (JF) on Tuesday revealed Houthi preconditions for repairing the floating storage and offloading (FSO) facility Safer anchored off the western port city of Hodeida.
The Houthi group wants the JF pulled out of Hodeida and al-Doraihimi, embargo on Iran lifted, Sana'a airport reopened to airlift their injured fighters and Iranian and Lebanese experts, and 500,000-barrel-worth cash paid to them in US dollars as preconditions for Safer repairs, Wadhah al-Dobaish said in a statement carried by Al-Arabia TV.
The Houthi senior negotiator, Mohamed Abdul Salam, "reclined in his recent tweet when he shifted responsibility to the Arab coalition" for obstructing the repairs, Dobaish added. "I challenge him now to deny what we've said or prove otherwise."
The Houthis are to blame for preventing UN repair teams from fixing the tanker Safer, the military spokesman claimed, warning that the JF would take a "serious, strong stance unless pressure on Houthis lead to allowing for immediate maintenance.
"The United Nations has to perform its mission bravely and take legal, strict actions against the terrorist militias' obduracy."
On Monday, the Yemeni internationally-recognized government spokesman accused the group of planning to explode the FSO facility, along with the 1.14 million barrels of crude inside.
The Houthis have in several occasions rejected all mediations by the UN, UK and many countries that tried to persuade them into allowing UN teams access to repair Safer, Rajih Badi added in remarks to Asharq Al-awsat.
"They frankly told one of the mediation .. that they would not allow access for any repair team, as they wanted to use the facility as a pressure card; if the [government] forces advance towards Hodeida, they will blast the storages themselves to create an environmental disaster and divert the world's attention to it," he told the Saudi paper.
The Yemeni State-owned tanker of Safer has not repaired since 2014, with corrosion making the FSO at risk of looming explosion and, thus, the Red Sea at risk of the worst environment disaster, according to UN experts.
While warnings have been increasingly issued that a leakage might lead to a catastrophe, the Yemeni government and Houthis have traded blames for preventing repairs of the tanker that contains more than one million barrels of crude.