Iran state television said Thursday that the regime seized a foreign tanker accused of smuggling oil along with its 12-member crew. The admission comes after an oil tanker based in the United Arab Emirates disappeared earlier this week.
The Revolutionary Guard forces intercepted the ship in the Strait of Hormuz, south of Iran’s Larak Island.
The Panamanian-flagged oil tanker MT Riah stopped transmitting its location overnight on Sunday near Qeshm Island, which has a Revolutionary Guard base on it, according to data listed on tracking site Maritime Traffic.
Iran’s state television did not identify the seized vessel, but said it was intercepted on Sunday. It said the oil tanker had 12 foreign crew members on board and was involved in smuggling some 1 million liters of fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers. (Associated Press)
According to the Associated Press, the admission contradicts a statement made by Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday that said it offered assistance to a foreign oil tanker with a malfunction.
The alleged seizure is the latest provocation in the region involving oil tankers and comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West.
CNN reported Wednesday that the Pentagon is preparing to send 500 troops to Saudi Arabia.
Last month Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said 1,000 troops were going to be sent to the Middle East for “defensive purposes to address air, naval and ground-based threats in the Middle East" but did not say which countries they would be sent to. The troops heading to the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia are part of this deployment.
“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Shanahan said in a statement at the time. “The United States does not seek conflict with Iran. The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests.”