Tuesday July 23, 2024

US seizes Iranian tanker carrying sanctioned crude oil

US Navy has steadily increased its presence in seas of the Middle East in the past months

By Web Desk
August 21, 2023
The image shows US Navys fighter ship USS Bataan. — AFP
The image shows US Navy's fighter ship USS Bataan. — AFP

A tanker carrying sanctioned Iranian crude oil which began unloading its cargo despite Tehran's threats against shipping companies was seized by the US near Texas.

The oil cargo is being transferred from the Suez Rajan, a tanker under the flag of the Marshall Islands, which is anchored off the Texas coast near Galveston approximately 50 miles (80 km) from Houston, as per the reports by Associated Press.

Requests for comments regarding the ship-to-ship transfer from Oaktree Capital Management, a Los Angeles-based private equity group and owner of the Suez Rajan, were not immediately replied to.

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers from the House and Senate wrote to the Biden administration on Wednesday to discuss Iran's "unprecedented intimidation" tactics that have prevented American corporations from releasing the confiscated oil cargo.

Due to difficulties with selling the 800,000 barrels of oil at auction, it is reported that the oil had not been offloaded when the US seized the Iranian tanker late in May in compliance with its sanctions. The oil was valued at $56 million by the parliamentarians.

The US corporations are reportedly hesitant to ship the oil because they are worried about possible Iranian retaliation, notably violent threats from Iran's Revolutionary Guards. In July, Alireza Tangsiri, the head of the IRGC fleet, issued a warning that Tehran will react against any oil corporation involved in the unloading of Iranian oil.

In the past few weeks, the US Navy has steadily increased its presence in the Middle East. Recently, it sent the troop- and helicopter-carrying USS Bataan through the Strait of Hormuz, and it is considering sending armed personnel on commercial ships through the strait to prevent Iran from capturing more ships.