(Dubai) An oil tanker flying the flag of the Marshall Islands was seized in the Gulf on Thursday by the Iranian military that the building had tried to flee after a “collision” with an Iranian vessel which left injuries.
The US Navy earlier reported the seizure by Iranian forces of the tanker Advantage Sweet off the coast of Oman, calling on Tehran to release it “immediately”.
The incident took place in the early afternoon in a highly strategic maritime area, an almost exclusive shipping route to connect the Gulf oil countries to world markets.
In a statement, the Iranian military said the seizure was carried out following a collision.
“Following the collision of an unknown vessel with an Iranian vessel in Persian Gulf waters, two of the (Iranian) vessel’s crew are missing and several others have been injured,” she said.
The vessel was seized after it attempted to flee, “in violation of international regulations to render assistance to the vessel and to the injured”, she added.
The incident comes amid growing tensions between Tehran and Western countries, which this week tightened their sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards, the Islamic Republic’s ideological army, over human rights abuses.
The US 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, initially claimed that the Revolutionary Guards had seized the ship, before clarifying that it was in fact the Iranian army.
According to MarineTraffic.com, at the time of the incident, the tanker Advantage Sweet was off the coast of Oman after leaving Kuwait heading for Houston in the United States.
He issued a distress signal after the incident, the US Navy said in a statement.
“The Iranian government must immediately release” the vessel, she added, condemning acts “contrary to international law and threatening regional security and stability”.
Over the past two years, Iran has “illegally” seized at least five commercial vessels in the Middle East, the statement said.
The United States regularly criticizes Tehran’s actions in this maritime zone.
In 2019, the Revolutionary Guards seized a British-flagged tanker, before releasing it two months later. And in 2022, an Iranian navy flotilla briefly seized two unmanned US military vessels in the Red Sea.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have notably escalated since in 2018, then-US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the international agreement to freeze Iran’s nuclear program and his country has reimposed sanctions that had severely affected the country’s economy.
On Monday, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States announced in a coordinated manner the strengthening of sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards, for human rights violations.
This is the seventh round of sanctions against Iran from the 27 since the death on September 16 of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, who died after being arrested by vice police for breaching the code. strict Islamic Republic dress. This death triggered a vast protest movement in Iran which was repressed by the authorities.
In retaliation for the latest sanctions, Iran announced its own punitive measures against EU and UK individuals and entities, while denouncing the “cruel escalation of sanctions” against the country.