DUBAI (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday demanded Iran immediately release a vessel it seized in the Gulf and a U.S. military commander in the region said the United States would work “aggressively” to ensure free passage of vessels through the vital waterway.
Responding to an announcement by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards that they had seized a foreign ship smuggling fuel, the U.S. State Department insisted Iran had to free the ship and its crew and stop harassing vessels in and around the Strait of Hormuz.
United - States - Iran - Series - Attacks
The United States blames Iran for a series of attacks on shipping since mid-May in the world’s most important oil artery, accusations Tehran rejects but that have raised fears the long-time foes could stumble into war.
Iran played down the seizure of the ship, which it said was a small vessel that was smuggling oil.
United - States - Islamic - Revolutionary - Guard
“The United States strongly condemns the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with safe passage in and around the Strait of Hormuz,” a State Department spokesperson said in an email to Reuters.
reportedly seized crew and vessel immediately.”
State - TV - Footage - Vessel - RIAH
Iranian state TV aired footage of a vessel called “RIAH.”
The Panamanian-flagged oil tanker MT Riah disappeared off trackers in Iranian territorial waters days ago.
Ships - Day - People - Oil - Iran
“We do this (inspecting ships) every day. These are people who smuggle our oil,” Iran’s Press TV quoted Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying, adding that “it was a small ship used to smuggle one million liters – not one million barrels – of crude oil.”
The Guards said the impounded ship was in the area of Larak Island in the Gulf and had 12 foreign crew. Britain said the tanker was not British-flagged.
Oil - Prices - News - Seizure - Tensions
Oil prices jumped after news of the seizure amid rising tensions between Tehran and the West over the safety of shipping in the Strait of...
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