Iran Seizes an Oil Tanker, but Whose Tanker Is Disputed

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Middle East|Iran Seizes an Oil Tanker, but Whose Tanker Is Disputed

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/03/world/middleeast/iran-tanker-oil.html

U.S. and Iranian officials gave conflicting accounts of a vessel that was seized past month. Some reports said it was the aforesaid tanker the United States had seized past year. The Pentagon denied that.

A outer  photograph   shows the Vietnamese-flagged lipid  tanker Southys, the reddish  vas  astatine  the acold   bottommost  right, connected  Saturday, disconnected  the seashore  of Bandar Abbas, Iran.
Credit...Planet Labs Inc., via Associated Press

Nov. 3, 2021, 9:46 p.m. ET

American and Iranian officials some said Wednesday that Iran had seized an lipid tanker successful the Sea of Oman past period aft an brushwood with the U.S. Navy, but the 2 sides gave wide differing accounts of whose tanker it was and what, exactly, had happened.

Iranian officials said the United States had seized a tanker carrying Iranian lipid connected Oct. 24 and that an battle by Iranian commandos had taken the tanker back.

A connection by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said that “the brave I.R.G.C. naval portion landed connected the tanker that had the stolen oil, seized it and brought it backmost to Iranian waters.”

Two U.S. officials, who spoke connected information of anonymity to sermon confidential quality assessments, said that Iran had seized a Vietnamese-flagged tanker, the MV Southys.

A U.S. Navy destroyer, The Sullivans, arrived to show the seizure but took nary enactment and was not threatened by approaching Iranian speedboats, 1 of the officials said.

John F. Kirby, the main Pentagon spokesman, denied Iran’s allegations that the United States had seized the merchant vessel, whose nationality helium declined to identify.

“It’s a ridiculous claim,” helium told reporters successful Washington. “It’s perfectly not true. And I would adhd that Iran’s actions, the ones that are existent of them, illegally boarding and seizing a merchant vessel, represent a blatant usurpation of planetary law.”

Reports connected societal media accounts affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards gave yet different mentation of the story, the latest occurrence successful a long-running tit-for-tat series of maritime skirmishes betwixt Iran and the West. This mentation of events was endorsed by 2 Iranians with cognition of the incident.

They said the seized tanker was 1 of 4 tankers carrying Iranian lipid to Venezuela that had been seized by the United States successful the Atlantic Ocean successful August of past year.

Iranian officials, they said, had been waiting ever since for the tanker to travel adjacent its shores to instrumentality it back.

“Now the tanker with the aforesaid skipper & unit & nether US subject extortion has been seized by the IRGC Navy,” Seyed Mohammad Marandi, a Tehran-based expert adjacent to the government, said successful a tweet.

An Iranian lipid trader with cognition of the incidental confirmed that account. He said Iran had retaliated to show that seizing its lipid successful planetary waters would not spell unanswered.

Similarly, Iran seized a British tanker successful 2019 successful effect to the confiscation of an Iranian lipid tanker by British forces adjacent Gibraltar.

The vessel seized past period was being held astatine Bandar Abbas and the unit was successful custody, Iran’s authorities media said.

A Pentagon spokesperson rejected the assertion that the tanker was 1 that had been seized by the United States past year.

“The vas astatine the halfway of the 24 Oct. seizure by Iranian forces was NOT 1 progressive successful the Iran-Venezuela concern 8 months ago,” Maj. Rob Lodewick said successful an email.

A idiosyncratic who answered the telephone astatine the Vietnamese Embassy successful Washington declined to comment.

It was unclear wherefore the seizure of the tanker was conscionable coming to airy connected Wednesday.

The United States had not publicized the event, 1 American authoritative said, due to the fact that of existent diplomatic sensitivities with Iran.

“If you’re asking me, wherefore americium I talking astir this today, due to the fact that the Iranians lied astir it today,” Mr. Kirby said. “But we show maritime postulation each time retired there, and not each of it rises to the level of america putting retired a property release.”

Indirect talks betwixt the United States and Iran implicit resurrecting the 2015 atomic statement person been stalled for months.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday that the talks would resume connected Nov. 29 successful Vienna.

Iran whitethorn person announced the seizure Wednesday, and played up the ostensible confrontation with the Americans, due to the fact that it was the time earlier the 42nd day of the 1979 Iranian takeover of the American embassy, an lawsuit that Iran celebrates annually with pomp and ceremony.

Iran’s authorities media formed the tanker incidental arsenic a bravura enactment by the Revolutionary Guards Special Forces, which chased U.S. warships distant by “locking connected missiles” astatine the vessel and informing its unit to permission the country oregon look subject confrontation.

A melodramatic video broadcast connected authorities television, ostensibly of the Oct. 24 seizure, showed Iranian commandos boarding a chopper and landing connected a tanker with instrumentality guns pointed astatine the crew. Several speedboats circled the tanker and a dependable successful English warned a U.S. vessel to permission the area.

One of the American officials dismissed that account, saying that immoderate Revolutionary Guard speedboats approached The Sullivans but were not threatening. He described it arsenic conscionable immoderate “sporty activity” betwixt the Guards and the Navy ship.

Separately, a U.S. authoritative said Wednesday that aggregate drones, believed to beryllium Iranian, had “unsafe and unprofessional interaction” with the U.S.S. Essex craft bearer arsenic the vas near the Strait of Hormuz wrong the past 24 hours.

The drones flew adjacent to the Essex, interfering with the ship’s formation operations prompting it to instrumentality antiaircraft measures, defusing the encounter, the authoritative said.

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