Wednesday, May 03, 2023
A second US oil tanker has been "seized by Iran" in the Strait of Hormuz Wednesday, said the US Navy, as the tensions have been growing with Washington in the gulf waters, reported Reuters.
According to the Bahrain-based US Navy Fifth Fleet: "The Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi was seized by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) at 6:20am while passing through the narrow Strait of Hormuz."
A video released by the US Naval Forces Central Command shows a number of fast-moving IRGCN boats approaching the oil tanker. The US said the tanker was forced to reverse course into Iranian territorial waters during the unlawful seizure.
Iranian news agency IRNA news agency confirmed that the vessel had been seized by the IRGC, without providing further details.
According to the Iranian judiciary's Mizan news agency, the Tehran prosecutor has said the seizure was the result of a judicial order, following a complaint by a plaintiff.
Last week Thursday, Iran had taken control of an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman which was termed a violation of international law and a threat to maritime security by the 5th Fleet.
Iran said: "The Turkish-operated, Chinese-owned tanker named Advantage Sweet, which was bound for Houston, Texas carrying Kuwaiti crude oil for US energy firm Chevron Corp, had collided with an Iranian vessel, leaving several crewmen missing and injured."
Tehran had also said the "Advantage Sweet, which had about two dozen Indian crew members, had moved through the Strait of Hormuz and fled the scene despite repeated warnings."
According to Reuters, Thursday's seizure of the vessel had come as a response to the confiscation of an oil tanker by the US days earlier in an effort to enforce its unilateral sanctions on Tehran.
Reuters, citing sources reported that "Washington took control of the oil cargo aboard the Marshall Islands tanker Suez Rajan after securing an earlier court order. The tanker's last reported position was near southern Africa on April 22, ship tracking data showed."
As per the US Navy, Iran took control of a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday — the recent confiscation by Tehran on commercial vessels in sensitive Gulf waters, a sea lane from where millions of barrels of oil pass daily.
The Iranian state media noted Friday: "The tanker ignored radio calls for eight hours following a collision with an Iranian boat, which left several crewmen injured and three missing."
In 2022, Washington attempted to take control of a cargo ship of Iranian oil near Greece, sparking a response to seize two Greek oil tankers in the Gulf.
Later on the orders of the Supreme Court of Greece, the oil cargo was returned to Iran after which Tehran also released the two seized tankers.
In a similar attempt in 2020, Washington seized four cargoes of Iranian fuel aboard foreign ships en route to Venezuela and directed them with unidentified foreign collaborators onto two other ships which then went to the US.
Iran had been under US harsh sanctions on its nuclear program since the 2015 deal was called off by the US in 2018 unilaterally which accelerated Iranian efforts to increase the pace of its uranium enrichment.