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On a day that's witnessed serious escalation amid already soaring tensions in the Persian Gulf, Iran has confirmed the vessel it earlier said its IRGC forces seized for "smuggling" oil is in fact Panamanian-flagged oil tanker MT Riah which had disappeared near Iranian waters starting last weekend. State TV aired dramatic footage showing multiple IRGC fast-boats swarming the clearly marked vessel in the Strait of Hormuz.
On Tuesday international reports described the Riah as a tanker based in the United Arab Emirates and cited US intelligence officials to say Iran's navy had forced the vessel into waters near Iran's coast starting late Saturday night. Iran had initially denied the accusations that it had detained the vessel.
Foreign - Minister - Mohammad - Javad - Zarif
But now Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has acknowledged the vessel is now being detained by Iran for "smuggling":
“We do this (inspecting ships) every day. These are people who smuggle our oil,” Iran's Press TV quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying, adding: “It was a small ship used to smuggle 1 million litres - not 1 million barrels - of crude oil.”
Tehran - Pressure - Washington - Oil - Prices
It's clear that Tehran is attempting to ramp up the pressure on Washington and drive up global oil prices, while also potentially in the beginning phase of making good on its long time threat to cut off global shipping through the vital oil passageway.
State run ISNA had earlier in the day described, "A foreign vessel smuggling one million liters of fuel in the Lark Island of the Persian Gulf has been seized," and said its navy detained it starting Sunday.
Iran - Press
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