Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have seized a “foreign vessel,” saying it was “smuggling” one million barrels of fuel. It comes amid Tehran’s quarrel with London over a seized tanker.
The tanker was intercepted by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) near Larak Island in the Strait of Hormuz off Iran’s coast, the bottleneck point for maritime traffic from the Persian Gulf.
Reports that a ship was seized initially surfaced in Intelligence circles on July 14. At that time there were covert Intel reports that the ship in question may be the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-owned, Panamanian-flagged MT ‘Riah,’ which went missing last Sunday while passing the strait and was presumed captured by the IRGC. Yet Tehran insisted the ship had experienced a technical malfunction and was towed into Iranian waters for repair. So the Intel was discounted as inaccurate. Now, it seems the Intel was spot-on!
British authorities previously seized a supertanker carrying Iranian crude through the Strait of Gibraltar, claiming its cargo was destined for Syria and thus was subject to EU sanctions targeting Iran’s ally. Tehran compared the arrest to an act of piracy and demanded the release of the ship, the Panamanian-flagged ‘Grace 1.’
Iran accused the UK of doing Washington’s bidding and helping the US attempt to stifle the Islamic Republic’s oil exports.
The UAE is a U.S. ally. Now that the world knows for certain that Iran has formally seized the ship, sparks may very well begin to fly.
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