Iran’s IRGC seizes foreign vessel smuggling fuel

July 19, 2019

TEHRAN – The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said on Thursday it had seized a foreign oil vessel in the Persian Gulf that was smuggling one million liters of Iranian fuel.

In a statement on Thursday, the IRGC Navy said the foreign ship was captured on July 14 by military boats patrolling the first naval Zone in the Persian Gulf on an anti-smuggling mission.

The incident occurred south of Iran’s Larak Island, the statement said.

The “surprise operation” was carried out after the IRGC naval forces made sure the ship was smuggling fuel, it added.

The IRGC said the ship had loaded the fuel from Iranian dhows and was about to hand it over to other foreign vessels in farther waters. The vessel, which had 12 foreign crewmembers aboard at the time of the seizure, is capable of carrying two million liters of fuel.

 Zarif says the vessel seized by the IRGC was not actually a tanker, but was a small ship used to smuggle one million liters – not one million barrels – of crude oil.It also hailed the naval forces’ “perceptiveness” in frustrating the smuggling attempt.

“The [Iranian] naval units in this area will continue to conduct security operations and missions aimed at confronting organized fuel smuggling efforts ... decisively and keenly around the clock,” it added, according to Press TV.

Later on Thursday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the vessel seized by the IRGC was not actually a tanker, but was a small ship used to smuggle one million liters – not one million barrels – of oil products.  

“[It is] one of the things that we do in the Persian Gulf because of the heavy subsidies that we provide for our own fuel products,” Mr Zarif told reporters at the Iranian mission to the UN. “There is a lot of smuggling out of Iran. A lot of it goes through the Persian Gulf ... We do things in the Persian Gulf and this is one of those.”

Iran’s oil has been targeted with sanctions by the United States, in an attempt by the Trump administration to drive the Iranian oil exports to zero.

The sanctions, which had been lifted under the Iran nuclear deal, were restored last year after the U.S. unilaterally walked away from the agreement, which was struck between Iran and six major powers in 2015. 

Tehran has slammed as “economic terrorism” the U.S. attempts to zero out its oil exports as well as other economic pressures exerted by Washington on Tehran.

MH/PA
 

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