DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized a foreign oil tanker in the Gulf which they said was smuggling fuel and detained seven crewmen, Iran’s state media reported on Sunday, in a show of power amid heightened tension with the West.
The vessel was intercepted near Iran’s Farsi Island in the Gulf, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said. The elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has a navy base on Farsi Island which is located north of the Strait of Hormuz.
Fars - Lebanon - TV - Station - Tanker
Fars and Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV station reported that the tanker was seized on Wednesday.
“The IRGC’s naval forces have seized a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf that was smuggling fuel for some Arab countries,” the Guards commander Ramezan Zirahi told state TV.
Liters - Fuel - Nationalities - Crewmen - Identity
It was carrying 700,000 liters of fuel, he said, without elaborating on the nationalities of the detained crewmen and the identity of the ship.
“The boats of the IRGC navy were patrolling the area to control traffic and detect illicit trade when they seized the tanker,” Fars quoted Zirahi as saying, adding that the seizure was in coordination with Iran’s judicial authorities.
Iran - World - Fuel - Prices - State
Iran, which has some of the world’s cheapest fuel prices due to heavy state subsidies and the fall of its currency, has been fighting rampant fuel smuggling by land to neighboring countries and by sea to Gulf Arab states.
“The tanker was transferred to the Bushehr port, where its fuel was handed over to the authorities,” Zirahi told TV.
Spokesman - US - Navy - Fifth - Fleet
A spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said they had no information to confirm the media reports.
Another oil tanker, the Panama-flagged MT Riah, was captured by the elite force last month for allegedly smuggling fuel.
Tensions - Iran - West - Year - United
Tensions have risen between Iran and the West since last year when the United States pulled out of an international agreement which curbed the Islamic Republic’s nuclear...
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