Iranian Revolutionary Guard Announced Seizure of Foreign Oil Tanker; Claimed 12-Member Crew Illegally Smuggling Oil; U.S. Condemned Seizure as ‘Illicit Activity’

  • Iranian state TV reported on Thursday that the country’s Revolutionary Guard captured a foreign oil tanker with 12 crew members that they alleged was illegally smuggling oil.
  • However, the report didn’t name the ship or say where it was from. There’s speculation that it could be the UAE-based oil tanker that stopped transmitting its location after sailing into Iranian waters last weekend.
  • An Emirati official said the “tanker in question is neither UAE owned nor operated, does not carry Emirati personnel, and did not emit a distress call.”
  • According to the broadcaster IRIB, “the ship was seized in Larak Island in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway off Iran’s coast which separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman.”
  • The broadcaster also said “the vessel had been towed after a distress call Sunday and was later seized for fuel smuggling.”
  • IRIB also reported that “The Revolutionary Guard said smugglers were transporting gasoline from Iran on small boats to a large tanker anchored outside Iranian territorial waters.” They claim the ship was carrying about 1 million liters of gasoline.
  • Spokesman for the U.S. Central Command Lt. Col. Earl Brown said the U.S. Fifth Fleet is aware of the reports that the Revolutionary Guard had seized the ship but didn’t provide further comments.
  • However, a State Department spokesperson said “the U.S. strongly condemns the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with safe passage in and around the Strait of Hormuz.”
  • The spokesperson added: “Iran must cease this illicit activity and release the reportedly seized crew and vessel immediately. We will continue to work closely with our allies and partners to ensure the Iranian regime’s extortion tactics and malign activities do not further disrupt maritime security and global commerce.”
  • In April, President Trump named the Revolutionary Guard a “foreign terrorist organization,” grouping it with al Qaeda and the Islamic State, which further created tension between the U.S. and Iran.
  • Despite increased tensions in the Middle East, U.S. oil prices dropped to its lowest level in about a month.

Reference Links

  • BBC: Iran seizes ‘fuel-smuggling’ tanker in Gulf READ
  • NPR: Iran Says Its Revolutionary Guard Seized Foreign Oil Tanker In Strait Of Hormuz READ
  • NBC: Iran seizes foreign oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz, state TV reports READ
  • MarketWatch: U.S. oil prices drop to lowest levels in a month READ

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