Iranian Revolutionary Guards seize foreign diesel smuggling boat in Gulf and arrest crew

TEHRAN – Iranian Revolutionary Guards said on Saturday they seized a contraband diesel boat in the Gulf and arrested its 11 foreign crew members.

“Thanks to our intelligence services and as part of a coordinated operation, our navy seized a foreign vessel with 11 crew members in our territorial waters,” Guards Colonel Ahmad Hajian said, according to the website of Iribnews state television.

Hajian did not specify the date of the seizure, the nationality of the boat or its crew, or more details about the vessel and its origin.

“After the inspection, more than 150,000 liters of contraband diesel were seized and the 11 foreign crew members were taken to court,” he added.

The incident follows a series of attacks on commercial vessels in the sea lanes serving the Gulf, where much of the world’s oil is produced and shipped.

On November 10, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced the release of the Vietnamese-flagged tanker MV Sothys that it had seized in October in the Arabian Sea.

This screenshot from a video released by the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guards on November 3, 2021 shows the oil tanker seized under the Vietnamese flag in the Gulf of Oman. (Revolutionary Guard via AP, file)

The US Navy has accused Iran of a series of limpet mine attacks on ships that damaged tankers in 2019, as well as a deadly drone attack on an Israel-linked tanker that killed two operatives European crew earlier this year. Just a few months ago, Iranian hijackers stormed and briefly captured a Panama-flagged asphalt tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Tehran denies leading the attacks, but a larger phantom war between Iran and the West has unfolded in the volatile waters of the region since then President Donald Trump withdrew the United States Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and imposed crushing sanctions on the country, while Tehran increased its stocks of enriched uranium beyond the percentage allowed by the deal.

The latest incident comes as Iran prepares to resume talks with the major powers aimed at ending a deadlock on the deal.

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