U.S. Seized Iranian Oil Over Smuggling Incident That Escalated Tensions in Gulf
The apprehension of the ship, the Suez Rajan, came after a group opposed to Iran raised accusations of sanctions violations last year.
The United States government has seized nearly one million barrels of Iranian crude oil that it says was being smuggled to China in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran, after it raised the threat of prosecution to get the tanker brought to American waters, newly unsealed court papers show.
The seizure of the oil from the vessel, the M/T Suez Rajan, is part of a larger and shadowy conflict with Iran. After the tanker began to steam toward the United States last spring, Irans Revolutionary Guards Corps seized two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, prompting the U.S. military to increase patrols and deploy additional assets to protect shipping lanes.
In July, Iranian state news media said the Guards navy commander had warned that Tehran would hold Washington responsible if the tankers oil was unloaded, without giving further details. On Wednesday, a high-ranking Israeli defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the seizure raised new fears that Iran could hijack more tankers in an effort to deter the United States from repeating the move.