Amid heightened tensions with the United States, Iran has seized a foreign tanker in the Gulf, third such seizure in a month. "The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized this ship around Farsi Island which was carrying around 700,000 litres of smuggled fuel,” said a Guards statement quoted by the official news agency IRNA.
"Seven foreign crew were arrested in the operation carried out on Wednesday night, said Fars news agency,” which is considered close to the Guards.
Earlier also Gibraltar authorities claimed that the vessel is loaded to capacity with crude oil enroute to Syria, in breach of the European Union (EU) sanctions and confirmed that the next hearing in the case is scheduled for August 15.
A Gibraltar government statement read: “The detention of the vessel relates to the suspected destination of the cargo, the Banyas refinery in Syria, which is owned by a company, the Banyas Oil Refinery Company. This company is the subject of European Union sanctions under EU Regulation 36/2012, which is directly applicable in Gibraltar,”
“The investigations of the Royal Gibraltar Police continue and the vessel remains detained under an Order of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar,” it had said.
It said that after receiving the results of comprehensive laboratory testing, it had been confirmed that “the Very Large Crude Carrier, the Grace 1 is loaded to capacity with crude oil.
Iran had called for the UK to release its oil tanker and warned Britain not to get involved in “this dangerous game”, which eventually led to Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf last week.
Tehran blames the US for arranging to have its ship seized in the wake of sanctions imposed against Iran with the aim of halting all its oil exports. European countries do not have sanctions against Iran but have had them in place against Iran’s ally Syria since 2011.