The big loot

U.S. sells off Iranian crude oil

June 7, 2021 - 21:39

TEHRAN — According to the recent document leaks, Donald Trump ordered the seizure of oil tankers carrying Iranian oil off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

The U.S. also sold the two million barrels of the stolen oil despite the fact that Iran was cash-strapped resulting from Washington’s heavy sanctions.

Of course, this is not a first for the big looters. On July 2, 2020, a seizure order for the cargo from four vessels was issued by U.S. District Court Judge Jeb Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The statement said, “The government announced today that it has successfully executed the seizure order and confiscated the cargo from all four vessels, totaling approximately 1.116 million barrels of petroleum. With the assistance of foreign partners, this seized property is now in U.S. custody.”

The story, however, is different this time. The United States has stolen $110 million, put it into a bank account and freezing Iran’s access to it.

Both countries were and continue to be in need of cash and raw materials to sustain their economies and remain afloat during the devastating COVID-19 outbreaks, which is why Iran dispatched five ships packed with oil to Venezuela in May of last year, bravely breaking past a U.S. blockade. This particular instance demonstrated how critical these trade networks are, which the U.S. considers "clandestine" but are, in fact, conventional trading contacts between sovereign states.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif referred to the recent seizure of Iranian oil tankers as “piracy,” tweeting, “In ‘black is white’ world, UN deprived Iran of its voting rights in the #UNGA as we’re in arrears. Not considered: US #EconomicTerrorism prevents Iran paying for FOOD, let alone UN dues
My letter to @antonioguterres: ps: UN can also collect from $110M US stole in recent piracy.”

The United States continues to show that it does not accept a pluralistic world in which states can conduct commerce free of political influences, and will even resort to outright piracy to force regime change. It demonstrates that the Washington dictatorship has little regard for the human misery caused by its activities as sanctions, blockades, and piracy do not achieve the desired result; instead, it only hurts innocent people.

Donald Trump had proven time and again that he does not know a thing about international law, diplomacy, or even multilateral institutions, thus, this piracy did not seem surprising at all. The fact that the Biden administration went forward with this act of piracy is concerning.

The U.S. seems to have forgotten that they have left the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which allowed Iran to sell its crude oil on the international market without U.S. interference. Under Trump’s guidance, the U.S. Navy acted as Pirates of the Caribbean, seizing Iranian oil tankers.

The oil came from the MT Achilleas, a ship seized by the U.S. in February off the coast of Fujairah, an Emirati port city. According to court filings in the United States, the Achilleas was susceptible to confiscation under American anti-terrorism statutes as it was ascribed to Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC). The IRGC denied such claims.

According to court filings, the U.S. government moved the Achilleas to Houston, Texas, and sold the slightly more than 2 million barrels of crude oil contained within it for $110 million, or roughly $55 a barrel. The payments will be held in escrow while a legal case is pending.

When queried about the issue on Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh stated he had "no details."
"No oil has been acquired from Iran because of their laws since the time of former U.S. President, Mr. Bill Clinton," Khatibzadeh stated.

Biden's devotion to this strategy, which he could change right now without requiring congressional action, demonstrates that his administration is carrying out Trump's "maximum pressure" policy against Iran.

This is clearly not a good basis for developing diplomatic relations, given that Trump's policies were designed specifically to destroy them, and the news of the U.S. selling Iranian oil is also odd given that the remaining parties to the nuclear deal – Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany, and the European Union – are holding talks on the topic in Vienna.

It's particularly hilarious that, in light of current NSA surveillance revelations in Europe, every single surviving participant to the nuclear deal has been sanctioned, surveilled, defrauded, or somehow bullied by the U.S. As the remaining parties begin new negotiations on the topic of Iran's nuclear program, Washington's plainly illegal and provocative activities must be basic context when setting up a plan for how this subject proceeds ahead.

According to EIA data, the United States imported 1.1 million barrels of Iranian oil last October, most likely as a result of a similar confiscation.

If Biden wants to win the trust of Iranians, he must immediately end piracy in the Persian Gulf, lift unilateral sanctions, and return the money generated from stealing the Iranian oil to the impacted parties. Without such moves, there is simply no possibility to create a productive working relationship with Tehran.


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