As the Persian Gulf tensions rise, Iran has taken control of yet another U.S. oil ship, increasing the total to three tankers taken in only 19 days.
According to the state-run IRNA news agency, the captured vessel is an Iranian oil tanker that was previously taken by a foreign business five years prior.
The seizure is described as the recovery of the Iranian tanker.
“The seized 10,000-ton oil tanker Purity had been illegally leased to a foreigner by falsifying documents since 2018 and its Iranian owners were deprived of the benefits of the oil tanker,” Mojtaba Qahremani, head of the justice department in Iran’s southern province of Hormozgan, was quoted as saying.
The 10,000-ton oil tanker Purity returned to Iranian national waters as a result of a court ruling and a coordinated operation by the IRGC Navy and Intelligence Ministry, according to the Tehran Times.
The American navy in Bahrain is still keeping an eye on events in the Persian Gulf.
Iran has harassed, impeded, or assaulted 15 commercial vessels flying international flags during the past two years, according to U.S. authorities.
Iran's official media broadcast images of its naval commandos board the tanker Advantage Sweet, which is registered to the Marshall Islands, late last month.
According to reports, the ship managed by Turkey and controlled by China was transporting Kuwaiti crude oil for American energy giant Chevron Corp. (NYSE:CVX) on its way to Houston, Texas.
Hours before the tanker was captured, Iran said it collided with an unnamed Iranian vessel, causing several crew members to apparently go overboard and injuring others.
A judge eventually ordered the tanker's seizure after it had departed the site and disregarded radio requests for eight hours.
Iran has violated international law, according to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which has urged Tehran to free the captured tankers right away.
“Iran’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with navigational rights in regional waters are a threat to maritime security and the global economy,” it said, adding that this was at least the fifth commercial vessel seized by the Islamic state in two years.
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