April 30th, 2023: The United States seizes Iranian oil cargo on a tanker. Why has this happened? Read on to learn more about it.
Following years of restrictions and pressure by the U.S. over Iran's nuclear program, the cargo confiscation is the latest escalated issue between Washington and Tehran as oil prices remain unsteady. The restrictions are not recognized by Iran, and its exports of oil have been increasing.
The U.S. recently seized Iranian oil on a ship at sea as part of a sanctions violation operation.
Days later, Iran responded by seizing another oil-filled vessel, according to a maritime law enforcement company.
Although Washington believes Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, Tehran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Sanctions were based on Iran in 2018 by President Trump.
Iran faces international sanctions for a clandestine nuclear program that the IAEA - International Atomic Energy Association (the UN’s nuclear watchdog) and powerful Nations say violate its treaty obligations. In 1967, it promised to never become a nuclear-armed state.
US-Iranian relations have further worsened by Washington’s allegations that Tehran supplied drones to Russia which they used against Ukraine.
The U.S. seizures, according to maritime security firm Ambrey, occurred no fewer than five days prior to Iran's Thursday move. In a client's advice, Ambrey stated that it believed the Iranian Navy's capture was a reaction to the American action.
Both tankers had Suezmax dimensions. In the past, after Iranian oil cargo was seized, Iran retaliated.
According to the sources, who requested anonymity owing to the delicate nature of the situation, Washington assumed custody of the oil shipment on board the Marshall Islands ship Suez Rajan after obtaining a previous court order. On April 22, the tanker's last known location was close to southern Africa, according to ship tracking information.
Empire Navigation, the management company for the ship located in Greece, and the US Department of Justice were slow to respond to demands for comment.
The latest capture or attack by Tehran on business ships in strategic Gulf seas, according to the U.S. Navy, occurred on Thursday when a tanker flying the flag of the Marshall Islands was taken over in the Gulf of Oman.
According to Iranian state television, the tanker disregarded radio calls for eight hours after colliding with an Iranian boat, inflicting injuries on many crew members and leaving three people missing.
Rear Admiral Mostafa Tajodini, the deputy commander of the Iranian navy, told the station that they tried to call the vessel to stop, before using force but the ship did not cooperate.
The United States attempted to take an Iranian oil shipment last year near Greece, which led Tehran to detain two Greek ships in the Gulf. The shipment was mandated to be sent back to Iran by the Greek Supreme Court. Later, the two Greek vessels were freed.
Twelve U.S. senators asked President Joe Biden on Thursday to eliminate Treasury Department regulations that have stopped the Department of Homeland Security from detaining Iranian oil shipments for over a year, a move that is sure to escalate hostilities.
In 2020, Washington seized four shipments of Iranian petroleum that were on board foreign ships headed for Venezuela and shifted them with assistance from unnamed international partners onto two additional ships that travelled to the United States.