Iran says seized tanker involved in US attempt to ‘steal’ Iranian oil in Sea of Oman

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Iran said on Wednesday it seized control of a tanker which Tehran claimed the US used to “steal” Iranian oil from another tanker in the Sea of Oman, state media reported.

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US forces seized a tanker carrying Iranian oil in the Sea of Oman and transferred its oil shipment to a second tanker heading to an “unknown” location, Iran’s state TV said, without specifying the date of the incident.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces then descended on the second tanker, took control of it, and led it toward Iranian waters, state TV added.

The IRGC released a statement later on Wednesday saying the tanker docked at Iran’s port of Bandar Abbas on the morning of October 25.

“Clear and undeniable footage of this event will be made available to the media in the next few hours,” the statement read.

US forces used helicopters and warships to try to take back the tanker but failed, Iranian state TV said, adding that the tanker is currently in Iran’s territorial waters.

Iran’s Oil Minister Javad Owji thanked the IRGC for “rescuing the Iranian oil tanker from American pirates,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Reuters cited the US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet as saying it had seen reports of the incident but at present had no information to provide.

The Red Sea has witnessed many incidents involving attacks on tankers over the past few years. The US and its allies blame Iran for orchestrating attacks on tankers in the key waterway, threatening international trade routes. Tehran denies the accusations.

Iran nuclear deal

The purported incident comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran over Iran’s return to talks aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal which offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its controversial nuclear program.Under the 2015 nuclear deal, Washington had lifted its sanctions on Iran’s oil exports in return for strict limits on its nuclear activities.

But in 2018, then President Donald Trump abandoned the agreement and reimposed the sweeping sanctions.

President Joe Biden has expressed willingness to rejoin the deal in exchange for Iran returning to the limits on its nuclear activities, but talks on the practicalities have been suspended since June.

With AFP

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