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    HomeWorldOil Tankers Seized in Tit-for-Tat as US-Iran Conflict Persists

    Oil Tankers Seized in Tit-for-Tat as US-Iran Conflict Persists

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    The US has taken control of Iranian oil on a tanker at sea in an attempt to enforce sanctions, according to three sources. In response, Iran has seized another oil-laden tanker. The cargo seizure is the latest development in years of sanctions pressure by the US over Iran’s nuclear program. Iran denies wanting to develop nuclear weapons, saying its nuclear program is for civilian purposes. Maritime security company Ambrey says the US confiscation took place at least five days before Iran’s action on Thursday. Both tankers were Suezmax-sized. Iran has previously responded in kind following seizures of Iranian oil cargo.

    Sources say Washington took control of the oil cargo aboard the Marshall Islands tanker Suez Rajan after securing a court order. The tanker’s last reported position was near southern Africa on April 22. The vessel’s Greece-based manager, Empire Navigation, and the US Department of Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The US Navy says Iran seized a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, the latest seizure or attack by Tehran on commercial vessels in sensitive Gulf waters.

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    Iranian state TV says the tanker ignored radio calls for eight hours following a collision with an Iranian boat, which left several crewmen injured and three missing. “Before using force, we tried to call the vessel …to stop but they did not cooperate,” Iranian deputy navy commander Rear Admiral Mostafa Tajodini told the broadcaster. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was aware of the Gulf of Oman seizure and reaffirmed support for international maritime law, a UN spokesperson said on Friday.

    Last year the US tried to confiscate a cargo of Iranian oil near Greece, which prompted Tehran to seize two Greek tankers in the Gulf. Greece’s supreme court ordered the cargo returned to Iran. The two Greek tankers were later released. In a step likely to exacerbate tensions, 12 US senators have urged President Joe Biden to remove Treasury Department policy hurdles that have prevented the Department of Homeland Security from seizing Iranian oil shipments for more than a year. In 2020, Washington confiscated four cargoes of Iranian fuel aboard foreign ships that were bound for Venezuela and transferred them with the help of undisclosed foreign partners onto two other ships which then sailed to the US.

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