TEHRAN: Iran has seized another foreign oil tanker in the Gulf, accusing it of smuggling fuel to Arab states and adding that seven sailors on board the tanker had been detained.
“The IRGC’s naval forces have seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf that was smuggling fuel for some Arab countries,” the Iranian media quoted Revolutionary Guard commander Ramezan Zirahi as saying.
“It carried 700,000 liters of fuel. Seven sailors on board of the tanker, who are from different nationalities, were detained.”
The report comes weeks after Iran seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, an incident that inflamed tensions amid renewed hostility between Iran and the West.
Tehran claimed that it had seized the Stena Impero for violating international regulations.
State TV later released video that shows masked commandos rappelling onto the ship, while a dramatic audio recording emerged of the moments before the tanker was seized.
A senior official in the government of Oman — which has often played a role as mediator in the region — told NBC News that Iran may have been reacting to the extended detention of one of its ships in the British territory of Gibraltar.
Last month British Royal Marines seized a tanker believed to be carrying Iranian oil in Gibraltar under accusations that it was bringing the oil to Syria in violation of E.U. sanctions.
Both ships remain in custody. Britain has rejected the idea that it could release the Iranian tanker in exchange for the British-flagged vessel seized by the IRGC.
Britain has called Iran’s seizure of the Stena Impero a “hostile act” and rejected Tehran’s claims that the vessel had been involved in an accident with a fishing boat.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have also intensified in recent months.
The Trump administration said Wednesday it has imposed financial sanctions on Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, saying he carries out the country’s “reckless agenda” and acts as an apologist for the regime.
The move, though largely symbolic, could complicate any attempt to open up direct talks between Washington and Tehran.