On December 30, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced that they had seized an oil tanker near the island of Abu Musa in the Persian Gulf, according to Iranian TV channel Al-Alam.
The report says that the oil tanker with 16 Malaysian crew members onboard was stopped by Iran over allegedly “smuggling 1.312 million liters of fuel”.
It remains unclear what flag the vessel was sailing under. Iranian authorities have yet to comment on the incident.
Iran carefully monitors the Persian Gulf for potential oil smuggling operations and other violations of maritime law. In September, Iranian forces deetained a ship allegedly carrying nearly 284,000 litres of smuggled diesel fuel to the UAE.
In July, the IRGC detained the Stena Impero, a British-flagged oil tanker, accusing it of ignoring safety regulations, turning off its communications and ramming into an Iranian fishing vessel. This move became a logical development of the diplomatic row between Tehran and London, and of tit-for-tat accusations of “piracy” on the high seas by both countries owing to the UK’s earlier seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar. Later booth ships were released.
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