confirms ‘retaliatory’ oil tanker seizure

28 confirms ‘retaliatory’ oil tanker seizure

The St. Nikolas was transporting crude from Iraq to Turkey when it was boarded

An oil tanker has been boarded and seized by Iranian forces in Gulf of Oman, Tehran’s Navy confirmed on Thursday. The St Nikolas – a Greek-owned vessel bearing the Marshall Islands flag – was taken in retaliation for final yr’s incident wherein the US captured a cargo of Iranian oil from the identical ship, in keeping with Iran’s Navy.

The “seizure occurred on a court docket order,” the Navy reported, because the “Suez Rajan tanker had earlier stolen an Iranian oil cargo and handed it over to the US.”

Underneath the identify Suez Rajan, the vessel was within the highlight of a authorized battle final yr, after the watchdog group United Towards Nuclear Iran reported that it was transporting Iranian oil to China in violation of US sanctions.

The US seized the vessel, and within the following court docket case, the charterers of the vessel pleaded responsible and obtained fines. The tanker in the end cooperated with the US and sailed to Houston, the place almost 1,000,000 barrels of Iranian oil had been confiscated. Iran then pledged to retaliate.

The St. Nikolas sailed underneath the identify Suez Rajan till September of final yr, and was carrying a cargo of crude oil from Iraq to Turkey when it was boarded by Iranian forces early on Thursday.

In a press briefing later within the day, White Home nationwide safety spokesman John Kirby commented on the occasion, stating that the US authorities “condemn this obvious seizure.” He demanded that the Iranian authorities “instantly launch the ship and its crew,” calling Iran’s actions “provocative and unacceptable.”

The transfer comes at a tense time for the area, with each the Iranian and US navies sending warships into the world. Iran’s Alborz destroyer was deployed to the Purple Sea in early January as a result of “heightening tensions,” in keeping with Iranian state information IRNA. The US Navy despatched warships to the world after assaults on transport by Yemeni Houthi rebels, who’ve vowed to assault any vessel they see as “Israel-linked” till Israel ends its bombardment of Gaza.

A number of US Navy destroyers, together with warships from different nations, have operated close to the Suez Canal transport routes since December 19 as a part of Operation Prosperity Guardian. A number of have already come underneath assault from Houthi drones and missiles, whereas Houthi boats have been struck in retaliation over the previous two months.

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