Oil prices and fears about Iran’s ability to disrupt trade are up after Iranian state television reported Thursday the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps seized a foreign tanker it accused of smuggling oil.
Iranian state media did not identify the tanker, but the news coincides with the disappearance of a United Arab Emirates-based tanker that went dark in Iranian territorial waters this past weekend, reported The Associated Press.
Iran state television said the oil tanker had 12 crew members on board and accused the ship of carrying more than 260,000 gallons of fuel for Iranian smugglers. The tanker was reportedly seized in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
An Emirati official said the oil tanker in question, the MT Riah, made no distress call before turning off its tracker, reported The AP. A U.S. defense official told The AP before Iranian state media’s announcement that the U.S. suspected Iran had the MT Riah when the tracker switched off.
The news comes after the U.S. slapped sanctions on Iran in April by designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. The move followed President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to pull the U.S. out of the multilateral 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, British marines are holding an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar at the southern tip of Spain, reported The Wall Street Journal. The United Kingdom said it would work on releasing the tanker if Iran promised the ship would not violate European Union sanctions on shipments to Syria, reported The AP.
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