By Robert Inlakesh

Wall Street Journal caught out in lies about “U.S. Seizure of Iranian vessels”

August 18, 2020 - 10:21

Last Thursday, the widely regarded “reputable” ‘Wall Street Journal’ published a story, quoting unnamed U.S. officials, claiming that four Iranian vessels heading to Venezuela were “seized” in International Waters. But now it seems that they have changed their narrative, the narrative that the rest of Western Corporate media has adopted.

This Friday, the United Nations Security Council slapped down a highly anticipated U.S. resolution to indefinitely extend its arms embargo against Iran, dealing an embarrassing blow to the U.S. Trump Administrations' latest string of “maximum pressure campaign” tactics against Iran. 

On the very same day of the defeat, the story then broke, claiming that the U.S. had confiscated cargo from Iranian ships heading to Venezuela. The story has been quoted widely throughout the mainstream media, quoting an article published by the Associated Press, claiming that an unnamed “senior U.S. official told The Associated Press that no military force was used in the seizures and that the ships weren’t physically confiscated. Rather, U.S. officials threatened ship owners, insurers, and captains with sanction to force them to hand over their cargo, which now becomes U.S. property, the official said.

The U.S. justice department commented on the issue, stating that the alleged 1.116 million barrels of Iranian oil, is now in U.S. custody with the assistance of foreign partners. U.S. President Donald Trump also weighed in on the alleged seizure, claiming that the cargo was on its way or perhaps even already in Houston, Texas. There is also currently no physical proof of such cargo in U.S. possession. Both the U.S. Justice Department and State Department, have not clarified when, where, or how the alleged seizure specifically took place.

All of this of course makes for a complex picture, with various sources claiming different things. But what complicates the story more, is that this did not start with the Associated Press (AP) article, in fact, the story was initially broken by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Thursday. The WSJ, like the AP, quoted an unnamed source. But the WSJ source did not claim that cargo was seized but instead claimed that four entire vessels were seized instead.

In reaction to these claims made by the Wall Street Journal, Iran’s ambassador to Venezuela, Hojjat Soltani stated on Thursday that the ships were not Iranian nor were their owners. He also claimed that the U.S. was producing propaganda against Iran.

The Wall Street Journal then, interestingly, edited its piece changing the claim from that of “seized vessels” to “seized cargo”. This is no small mistake made by such a well-established outlet, especially when no retraction, justification or apology was written for the original claim. Instead, the claims of the unnamed source suddenly changed and the story was then broken again through the Associated Press, which is the source for all outlets covering this story. 
Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Javad Zarif, has since weighed in on the story stating the following; “Pirates of the Caribbean" have their own judges and courts now. Sadly, for them, stolen booty wasn't Iran's. Fuel was sold F.O.B. Persian Gulf. Ship and flag weren't ours either. Hollow, cheap propaganda doesn’t deflect from the miserable failure of U.S. diplomatic malpractice at the UN. [sic]”.

In a speech delivered this Saturday by Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, it was proclaimed by the Iranian leader that “Having suffered a political defeat, the Americans claimed to have seized four Iranian vessels in international waters. It however turned out later that neither were the tankers Iranian nor Iran-flagged. It was all just fake news.”. Which does seem to be the case, with the four vessels - named Luna, Pandi, Bering, and Bella - reported to be Liberian flagged?

It is also not clear as to whether the gasoline was heading to Venezuela and there is no confirmation on where the ships are currently. If the Iranian claims are proven true, that the fuel was already sold by Iran, then this would indicate that even if the cargo was extracted by the U.S. from these vessels, it would have no real meaning at all. The reason being that if the ships are not Iranian flagged, owned or carrying any Iranians on board, all the United States has seized is the oil that has already been sold to a Third Party by Iran and no longer has anything to do with the Islamic Republic of Iran, besides the oil has come from its soil.

Regardless of what the fine details are here, it seems that the U.S. mainstream media have yet again concocted a story amounting to physiological warfare, in the public sphere, against Iran. For such a well-known and highly-regarded - in mainstream opinion - paper, the Wall Street Journal really does owe an explanation for its sudden amendment of what its unnamed “source” reportedly told them. As this scandal seems to indicate some kind of implication in the ongoing U.S. government propaganda-war campaign against Iran and its people.

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