Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has commented on earlier publications in the media about the seizure of a ship carrying contraband oil, noting that it was a small vessel capable of carrying up to one million litres of oil and not an "oil tanker", as reports had originally described it as. He added that such anti-smuggling operations occur on a daily basis.
"The seized ship was a small vessel carrying one million liters of oil, NOT one million barrels of oil. We do it every day. These are people who try to smuggle our oil every day", Zarif said.
Iranian media reported earlier in the day that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had detained a "foreign oil tanker" on 14 July after they learned that it was carrying one million litres of contraband oil. The reports also said that the crude was being smuggled out of Iran in order to later be sold to foreign buyers.
While there is no official information about the seized vessel, media reports have suggested it is called Riah and that it was flying a Panamanian flag. The UK, which is currently engaged in a row with Iran over the detention of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar, called on Tehran to "de-escalate the situation in the region".
A US State Department spokesperson, in turn, demanded an "immediate" release of the tanker and its 12 crewmembers. Washington also slammed Iran’s alleged "continued harassment of vessels" passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
The situation in the Persian Gulf remains strained amid Iran's promise to detain British ships until its oil tanker, which was seized in Gibraltar by the UK, is released. The Grace 1 tanker was arrested by British forces after the US tipped them off that it was allegedly carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. Tehran denies this was the ship's destination.