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Iran Says It Seized Foreign Oil Tanker, Escalating Regional Tensions

Tensions in the Gulf further escalated on Thursday after Iranian media reported that the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps seized a foreign oil tanker on Sunday. Allegedly the vessel, sailing under an unidentified flag, had been smuggling one million liters of oil.

Last Saturday, a United Arab Emirates vessel disappeared while traveling in the Persian Gulf, but the media reports did not specify whether that ship was the seized tanker. Western media reports had already speculated that the Emirate vessel may have been seized by Iran.

Tensions in the Gulf have surged in recent weeks. Last week, the United Kingdom stated that a BP oil tanker sailing under the Isle of Man flag was almost denied passage through the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman by thee Iranian vessels. A week earlier, Iran threatened to capture a British oil tanker unless the United Kingdom would release an Iranian tanker that was recently seized in Gibraltar by UK Marines. In addition, Iran recently violated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in response to US sanctions, and urged the UK and other European signatories to take urgent steps to significantly reduce the impact of these sanctions.

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