21:15 GMT12 August 2020
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    According to IRGC, the foreign vessel was seized in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf island of Farsi on 31 July, which makes it the third tanker seizure by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards over past July.

    The Iranian media outlet Press-TV released footage that allegedly shows the IRGC forces halt and take into custody the foreign oil tanker smuggling fuel.

    A commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Ramezan Zirahi, told reporters on Sunday that patrols from the IRGC’s Naval District 2 had seized a ship allegedly smuggling fuel near the Persian Gulf island of Farsi on Wednesday night based on gathered intelligence data.

    Per Iran's Guards commander, the vessel was carrying 700,000 litres of fuel, with the senior military official adding that the seven sailors of different nationalities onboard had been detained.

    The vessel carrying the smuggled fuel has been transferred to Bushehr and the smuggled fuel delivered to the National Oil Products Distribution Company of Bushehr in accordance with Iranian law.

    There have been a severe rise in tensions in the Persian Gulf provoked by a series of tanker incidents. The situation became especially heated when Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on 19 July over what it described as a breach of international maritime legislation, prompting Tehran’s investigation into the incident. The seizure of the British tanker in the world’s most important waterway for the oil trade has deepened a crisis between Iran and the west that was triggered in May when the US tightened sanctions, in effect barring all countries from buying Iranian oil.

    The news notably came two weeks after Iran's own Grace 1 oil tanker had been seized by UK marines in Gibraltar, over an alleged breach of the European Union's sanctions against Syria

    Earlier, on 13 July, the Iranian coastguards spotted and detained the Panama-flagged tanker MT Riah - in incident shrouded in mystery until late July. The ship allegedly stopped transmitting its location signal on early Sunday morning near the coast of northern United Arab Emirates, with Iran claiming it came to the assistance of the tanker when it received a distress call.

    The continuing controversy comes after the United States restored tough economic sanctions on Iran includign a ban on having trade with the country after unilaterally withdrawing from the JCPOA -the landmark  Iran nuclear deal - on 8 May 2018 and stepped up its military presence in the area in response to an alleged threat from the Islamic republic.



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