Iran seizes foreign vessel in Persian Gulf for ‘smuggling fuel’

Iran’s IRGC claims to have seized foreign vessel in its territorial waters.

TEHRAN, Iran (AA) – Iran on Saturday seized a foreign vessel in the Persian Gulf waters, accusing it of “smuggling fuel”, military officials said.

The incident took place in the Parsian county of southern Hormozgan province, which borders the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

Col. Ahmad Hajian, commander of 412 Zulfiqar naval division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), told the state broadcaster that a “foreign ship” was seized with more than 150,000 liters of smuggled fuel.

An 11-member crew on board the ship was also taken into custody by Iranian forces for legal proceedings.

“With intelligence inputs and in a coordinated operation, the IRGC marines managed to seize a foreign ship with 11 crew in the waters of Hormozgan province,” Hajian said.

The IRGC commander stopped short of specifying which country the ship belongs, the nationality of the detained crew, or when exactly the ship was seized.

He warned that the IRGC’s Navy would “deal decisively” with those smuggling fuels from Iranian ships.

It is the latest in a series of incidents reported in the volatile region recently.

Earlier this month, the IRGC Navy seized a Vietnamese oil tanker following a close encounter with US naval forces in the Sea of Oman. The vessel was released a week later following hectic negotiations between the two sides.

In a statement, the IRGC said the tanker was freed “on judicial orders” after the oil, which Iranian authorities alleged was “stolen” by the US forces, was unloaded.

The US Department of State, however, rejected the claims, saying Iranian forces “seized” the Vietnamese ship while the US Navy was “just monitoring the situation”.

Speculation is rife in Iran’s military circles that the ship seized now could belong to one of the US regional allies.

It comes days before indirect talks between the US and Iran are set to resume in the Austrian capital Vienna.

The talks had been put on the backburner after the June presidential election in Iran. During this period, tensions between the two sides have heightened further.


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