Iran seizes an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf and the US demands that it be released

Iran seizes an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf and the US demands that it be released

Iran seized this Wednesday a Panama-flagged oil tanker that was transiting the Strait of Hormuz, the United States Navy announced, recalling that this is the second incident of this type in Gulf waters in a week.

Text: RFI / AFP

Following the report, the US State Department urged the Islamic Republic of Iran to “immediately” release the ship, which was seized in a strategic maritime zone that almost exclusively connects the Gulf oil countries with world markets.

The ship “Niovi” was heading from Dubai to the port of Fujairah, also in the United Arab Emirates, when it was pursued by ships of the naval corps of the Guardians of the Revolution, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic, indicated the US Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain.

The Iranian ships “forced it to turn around and head towards Iranian territorial waters,” the statement continued.

The US Navy posted a video of the ship surrounded by a dozen ships.

The online portal of Iranian Justice, Mizan Online, indicated that “the Tehran prosecutor announced that the ship ‘Niovi’ was seized by the Navy of the Guardians following a complaint and an order from the judicial authority.”

The United States demanded his immediate release.

“Iran’s harassment of shipping and its interference with navigation rights in regional and international waters are contrary to international law and detrimental to regional stability and security,” US State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel said.

“We join the international community in calling on the Iranian government and the Iranian Navy to immediately release the ship and its crew,” it added.

On board the ship were some 30 crew members, including the captain, a Greek national, and several sailors of Filipino and Sri Lankan origin, a spokeswoman for the Greek coast guard told AFP.

On April 27, the Iranian military seized a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker headed for the United States in the Gulf of Oman.

Iran claimed that that boat had tried to flee after a “collision” with an Iranian ship, which left injuries. According to the website, the tanker is still in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

According to British maritime security firm Ambrey, these incidents come after US forces seized a Greek tanker carrying Iranian oil last month.

“The Greek authorities then warned of the increasing risks for Greek ships,” Ambrey said, noting that the “Niovi” ship is also owned by a Hellenic company.

*Read also: Iran to monitor unveiled women with smart cameras

Iran’s “Family Scheme”

Incidents in this area have been on the rise since, in 2018, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the international agreement aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear program, imposing new sanctions against the Islamic Republic, especially against its oil sector.

“What we are seeing is a return to the very familiar pattern of US sanctions pressure and Iranian counter-pressure that led to frequent attacks on maritime and energy infrastructure” during the tenure of former US President Donald Trump, Torbjorn Soltvedt told AFP. , from the risk information company Verisk Maplecroft.

“The message that Iran has sent today is the same as then: Tehran is ready to defend itself against US efforts to curb Iranian oil exports,” he added.

Iran has intimidated or attacked 15 merchant ships in the past two years, the US Navy said Wednesday.

In 2019, the Revolutionary Guards seized a British-flagged oil tanker, releasing it two months later. In 2022, an Iranian navy flotilla briefly seized two unmanned US military vessels in the Red Sea.

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