Iran Says It Seized Foreign Oil Tanker, Escalating Regional Tensions


The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran seized a foreign oil tanker, Iranian news media reported on Thursday, days after a United Arab Emirates tanker disappeared, raising the stakes in the running conflict that has pitted Iran against some of its Persian Gulf neighbors and the United States.

Several state news organizations in Iran reported the seizure of the tanker, based on a statement from the Revolutionary Guards. The ship was said to have been smuggling fuel in the Persian Gulf.

The reports did not identify the tanker or its nationality, so it was not immediately clear whether the statement referred to the Emirati ship, the Riah, that was last detected in the gulf late Saturday. The Iranian state-owned news agency Al Alam reported that the seizure by the Revolutionary Guards took place on Sunday.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Iranian forces had come to the aid of a ship in distress over the weekend, but also declined to name the ship or what nation it hailed from.

Iranian officials have threatened to disrupt shipments from the gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, which carries about 20 percent of the world’s oil, in retaliation for Western sanctions. The United States blamed Iran for apparent attacks on tankers in May and June.

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