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Iran Ratchets Up Tensions With Tanker Seizure

Revolutionary Guard captured foreign oil vessel with 12 crew members
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 18, 2019 7:09 AM CDT
In this July 2, 2012 file photo, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboat moves in the Persian Gulf while an oil tanker is seen in background.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
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(Newser) – More tensions involving Iran and oil tankers: The nation's Revolutionary Guard forces have seized a foreign oil tanker accused of smuggling oil with a crew of 12, state TV reported Thursday, per the AP. Iran did not identify the tanker or its home nation, but the development comes just days after an oil tanker based in the United Arab Emirates disappeared off trackers in Iranian territorial waters. The Panamanian-flagged 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 said the unidentified tanker was intercepted on Sunday, had 12 foreign crew members, and was involved in smuggling 1 million liters of fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers.

The report said the oil tanker was intercepted south of Iran's Larak Island in the Strait of Hormuz. A US defense official said earlier this week that America "has suspicions" that Iran seized the oil tanker when it turned off its tracker in the Strait of Hormuz, and an Emirati official said the small tanker made no distress call before switching off its tracker. The acknowledgement that a vessel has been seized by Iran's Revolutionary Guard appears to contradict statements by Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman on Wednesday saying Iran had aided a foreign oil tanker with a malfunction. On Tuesday, Iran declared that the seizure of one of its own tankers by British military forces this month would not go "without a response," notes CBS News. (The US apparently came close to launching an airstrike on Iran over the downing of an American drone.)


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