Iran has seized another foreign tanker in the Gulf, a state media agency has said.

The vessel, carrying 700,000 litres of “smuggled fuel” bound for Arab states, was intercepted near Farsi Island in the Gulf, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said.

Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV station reported that it was taken on Wednesday.


Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Ramezan Zirahi, quoted by state television, said: “The IRGC’s naval forces have seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf that was smuggling fuel for some Arab countries.”

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Seven sailors of different nationalities were detained, he said.

“The seizure of the oil tanker was in coordination with Iran’s judiciary authorities and based on their order,” Fars quoted him as saying.

The reported seizure comes at a time of high tensions in the region, as Tehran struggles to cope with harsh economic sanctions imposed by the US.

The sanctions, which have severely restricted Iran’s oil exports, were reimposed after Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

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That, in turn, prompted Tehran to announce it was relaxing its efforts to comply with the deal.

UK vessels have become involved in the tit-for-tat conflict, after British Royal Marines captured the Iranian oil tanker, Grace 1, near Gibraltar on 4 July.

They said they suspected the ship was taking oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, but Iran called it an act of “piracy”.

The Iranian coastguard detained the Panama-flagged tanker MT Riah on 13 July, accusing it, as with the latest seizure, of smuggling fuel.

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Less than a week later, Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the British-flagged Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz.

Stena Impero. Pic: Stena Bulk
The Stena Impero. Pic: Stena Bulk

They accused the Swedish-owned oil tanker of allegedly violating international laws.

On Thursday, the UK’s new foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, rejected the chance to swap the tankers.

The US has blamed Iran for two separate attacks using explosives which damaged oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June – an allegation Tehran has denied.



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