Joint Iranian-Russian naval drills. February 17, 2021

Iran Claims US Navy Tried To Seize Its Oil But IRGC Navy Intervened

Wednesday, 11/03/2021

Iran claimed Wednesday that “recently” the United States tried to seize Iranian oil in the Sea of Oman, but the IRGC Navy intervened and repossessed the oil.

The vague report first by state media, was followed by a Revolutionary Guard statement repeating the media report with little details added, such as which vessels were involved.

The report said that the US Navy stopped a tanker carrying Iranian oil and transferred the cargo to another vessel. However, The Revolutionary Guard using helicopter landing seized that tanker and brought it back to Iranian territorial waters.

"With the timely and authoritative action of the Guards naval forces, the US terrorist Navy's operation to steal Iranian oil in the Sea of Oman failed," Iran's Guards said.

The IRGC said the incident took place on October 25.

Reuters reported that US officials speaking on condition of anonymity said that the Iranian report was not true and there had been no US attempt to seize a tanker.

The American officials said that in reality Iranian forces had seized a Vietnamese-flagged oil tanker last month and US naval forces were just monitoring the situation.

The report further claimed that the US Navy tried to intervene and stop the movement of the vessel by using helicopters and warships but “with the decisive intervention of IRGC” forces were unable to block the tanker’s route.

The United States or regional countries have not reported any incident recently.

The latest maritime incident dates to August 3, when Reuters quoted three “maritime security forces” as saying “Iranian-backed forces” had seized a tanker off the coast of UAE. The vessel was identified as the Panama-registered Asphalt Princess. One day later, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), the Royal Navy information service for shipping, reported that a potential hijack incident off the coast of the United Arab Emirates was “complete,” suggesting boarders had left the tanker.

The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, at the time said Iran was “ready to deliver help and to provide a close investigation of the matter.” He implied that recent incidents with shipping in the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf were “very suspicious.” Iran's senior armed forces spokesman, Abolfazl Shekarchi on the same day the incident was reported criticized "a kind of psychological warfare…setting the stage for new bouts of adventurism.”

The IRGC said video evidence of the alleged incident will be issued as the nature of the incident remains shrouded in mystery.

Iran has been shipping oil to Asian destinations despite US sanctions. China has increased its crude imports from Iran, although the cargoes are not officially registered as having originated in Iran.

The Trump administration seized a large shipment of Iranian fuel to Venezuela in August 2020, saying that the cargo belonged to the IRGC, a designated terrorist organization. The fuel was later sold on the open market.

Tensions are high in the region as nuclear negotiations with Iran are at an impasse, with Tehran having so far not returned to multilateral talks in Vienna suspended since June.

The US flew a B-1B bomber over the Middle East on Saturday, which was the first flyover since the Trump administration sent B-52 bombers several times into the region.

Allied fighter planes, including from Israel, escorted the B-1B bomber. Biden sending a B1-B bomber into the region allows him to send "a clear message of reassurance" to regional allies, the US Air Force's Central Command said in a Twitter post.

Updated at 19:09 GMT

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