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UAE Tanker “Disappears” In Persian Gulf. US Blames IRGC. Iran Says It Answered A Distress Call

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UAE Tanker "Disappears" In Persian Gulf. US Blames IRGC. Iran Says It Answered A Distress Call

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On July 13th, a UAE tanker, sailing under a Panama flag “disappeared” in the Persian Gulf. Immediately after its signal vanished, the US blamed the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

UAE Tanker "Disappears" In Persian Gulf. US Blames IRGC. Iran Says It Answered A Distress Call

Click to see full-size image

Tracking data shows an oil tanker based in the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz drifted off into Iranian waters and stopped transmitting its location over two days ago, the AP reported on July 17th.

The 58-meter (190-foot) Riah typically made trips from Dubai and Sharjah on the UAE’s west coast before going through the strait and heading to Fujairah on the UAE’s east coast. However, something happened to the vessel, according to tracking data.

The AP cited an anonymous UAE official who said that the tanker had sent no distress call.

AP cited Capt. Ranjith Raja of the data firm Refinitiv who said that the tanker hadn’t switched off its tracking in three months of trips around the UAE.

“That is a red flag,” Raja said.

An unnamed US defense official later told the AP that the Riah was in Iranian territorial waters near Qeshm Island, which has a Revolutionary Guard base on it.

“We certainly have suspicions that it was taken,” the official said. “Could it have broken down or been towed for assistance? That’s a possibility. But the longer there is a period of no contact … it’s going to be a concern.”

CNN’s Pentagon correspondent Barbarra Starr tweeted the following, based on anonymous intelligence sources:

“US intel increasingly believes UAE tanker MT RIAH forced into Iranian waters over the weekend by #IRGC naval forces. UAE isn’t talking.

Some Gulf sources say ship simply broke down/towed by Iran. US says tho no contact with crew. Last location Qesham Island.”

The ship’s registered owner, Dubai-based Prime Tankers LLC, told the AP it had sold the ship to another company called Mouj Al-Bahar. A man who answered a telephone number registered to the firm told the AP it didn’t own any ships.

Iranian IRNA news agency cited Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi who said that based on the international regulations, after receiving their request for help, Iranian forces went to the site and the foreign tanker was towed by an emergency towing vessel toward Iranian waters for repairing process.

The Jerusalem Post reported a summary of various reports on the US reaction, which is mostly based on anonymous sources:

“US officials believe that the Panama flagged tanker M/I RIAH was seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on Saturday night, when it was crossing the Strait of Hormuz in international waters. Information from the US intelligence agency indicated that the IRGC troops forced the tanker to enter Iranian territorial waters before withdrawing the vessel to Iran’s Qeshm Island.”

At the same time, the JPost reported on some alleged speculation by US officials:

“Some US intelligence officials believe that the seizure of the tanker comes as a response to Panama’s declaration that it will withdraw its flags on ships that violate US sanctions against Iran.”

Days earlier, British Royal Marines seized a giant Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar for trying to take oil to Syria in violation of US sanctions.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the British ambassador to voice “its very strong objection to the illegal and unacceptable seizure” of its ship.

UAE Tanker "Disappears" In Persian Gulf. US Blames IRGC. Iran Says It Answered A Distress Call

Click to see full-size image

London said the British Heritage tanker operated by oil company BP had been approached in the strait, the main outlet for Middle Eastern oil.

“HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away,” a British government spokesman said in a statement. It urged Iran to “de-escalate the situation in the region.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed as “worthless” the allegation that Iran sought to block the ship.

On July 16th, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country will retaliate over the seizure of an Iranian supertanker carrying 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil. The vessel was seized with the help of British Royal Marines earlier this month off Gibraltar over suspicion it was heading to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions, an operation Khamenei called “piracy” in a televised speech.

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  • Toronto Tonto

    I thought these terrorists said they knew nothing about this tanker , liars like putin .

    • Bob

      Dude, you have a pathological Putin fixation – evidently you suffer from obsessive and intrusive thoughts about Putin. Yeah, you probably want to go ahead and get some medical treatment for that affliction.

      • Toronto Tonto

        It will fix itself soon enough , don’t worry .

        • Bob

          The only people actually worried about your pathological fixations are likely your parents.

    • Feudalism Victory

      Honestly you’d have to be crazy to believe any reports from us intelligence agencies. My guess its a tempest in a teapot blown up by the UK actually seizing a tanker.

  • Garga

    Since the new British ambassador and the British government are very popular in Iran, Iranian students sent him a gift to show they appreciate everything Britain is doing for them:

    At the door of British embassy, Tehran:

    https://media.farsnews.com/Uploaded/Files/Images/1398/04/26/13980426000966_Test_PhotoN.jpg

    Since when the crew of a broken small vessel, not an American one or that of her allies, inform the “unnamed US defence officials” abouttheir situation?

    OK, I no longer think this fuss over nothing is a ploy to “straighten” UAE. It seems more like conditioning the world, making these waters look like dangerous which immediately results in a serious increase in shipping and insurance and therefore, crude oil price.

    • Toronto Tonto

      Is that there new flag , head choppers EH .

      • Blaine

        *their*

        auto translate from Hebrew on the fritz…

      • Garga

        No, it’s just the same good old British Navy flag.

  • zman

    What can I say? As an American, all I can say is that my government are nothing but lying, war mongering POS. I feel for all the counties that are having their arms twisted and end up suffering as well. This BS is not going to end well for the US military and all those that decide to climb in bed with them. I hope the Brits lose their entire fleet(all 4 ships), as they are ass deep in this provocation.

    • Toronto Tonto

      Liar your a ruskie .

    • You can call me Al

      The UK are not really involved apart from seizing the Iranian tanking in / close to British waters / territory in Gibraltar; they are protesting our tankers in the gulf because Iran stated they would retaliate. Nothing more.

      You Americans are very good at shifting blame and the conversation onto others.

      • Ronald

        An Act of Piracy at Gibraltar, is becoming very involved.
        Neither Britain or the EU has sanctions on selling oil to Syria, only sanctions on buying Syrian oil.

        The US requesting its seizure does not constitute a legal basis .

      • zman

        Wow. I guess UK seizing an Iranian ship was their duty or what? They had to take the tanker? They had to obey the US request? Shifting the blame when? I admit my gov sucks, but yours is just protecting their assets? Who is shifting blame to who here? I guess the CoL doesn’t have any relation to the Rothchilds or to controlled central banks either? They’re just protecting their empire? What country is it that regularly backs every illegal and immoral decision the US neocons make? When has UK ever taken the high road? Then there is the Russian thing. Who precipitated all that? UK IS ass-deep in it all.

        • You can call me Al

          OK fair play, but have you missed the fact it was just released ?, I think you will find a much bigger game going on here and the US and UK are on different sides.

          PS My view only.
          PPS Intex is up and running for trade with Iran and Russia are joining, The UK was the first European Country to join the Chinese Asian bank, against US threats etc. etc.

          • zman

            Actually, I have not seen that this tanker has been released. I know the crew has been released (on bail, that is), but everything I have seen says the UK is still saying Iran has to prove the oil (seems it is fuel oil, not crude) is not destined for Syria for them to release the tanker…which just continues an illegal action. As of July 30, it seems to still be in Gibraltar. The UK may be trying to take actions to stave off self destructive actions, but the main direction is the same as the rest of NATO and is one of the most pro-Israel countries in the world. I do not necessarily equate the UK gov with the British people, unlike those that would equate all of the American people with our criminal gov. When it come to the support of Israel, the people in the US are starting to wise up. Hopefully this culminates in an epiphany as to our situation.

          • You can call me Al

            I have noticed that on Zero Hedge; hard work convincing the Yanks that there is 2 sides to every story, but nice site for info.

    • Blaine

      I’m with ya brother. US Federal Govt is the biggest obstacle to addressing a lot of the planet’s woes. It is off the track and getting worse with every administration, every year.

    • Assad must stay (gr8rambino)

      Me too, I hope soon only Iranian warships occupy the persian gulf

  • Toronto Tonto

    Distress call my white azz .

  • frankly

    Somebodies desperate and it ain’t Iran.

    When you try to hold the whole world hostage eventually your hostages start to escape.

    There are some in the world who can’t be bought no matter how much money you print up.

    Used to be escaped hostages had no where to turn, SCO bro!

    The return to the rule of law. Not so far fetched F.uk.us

    Better jump on the bandwagon, never mind it’s too late.

  • friendly anon

    So everyone just plays the blame game and nobody starts a investigation. Great, that way even some hired guns can raise the oil price for speculants. I’d also not rule out the brits, they have a recent history of pirating oil tankers.