Amidst Rising Tensions Iran Seizes UAE-Bound Ship for Alleged Diesel Smuggling in Persian Gulf

By Venus Upadhayaya, Epoch Times
September 16, 2019 Updated: September 16, 2019

Iran captured a ship in the Persian Gulf for allegedly smuggling diesel to the United Arab Emirates, said an Iranian News Agency on Sep. 16.

Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards seized the vessel for sneaking 250,000 liters of diesel to UAE, reported the Iranian News Agency (ISNA) on Monday, according to the Reuters.

“It was detained near Iran‘s Greater Tunb island in the Persian Gulf … the crew has been handed over to legal authorities in the southern Hormozgan province,” said ISNA.

The Deutsche Welle reports that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards is an elite military force whose reach extends from Iran into major conflict zones in the middle east.

The reports of Tehran capturing the vessel smuggling diesel to UAE come amidst rising tensions after a weekend attack on a major oil installation in Saudia Arabia. Iran and Saudia Arabia don’t have any diplomatic relations at present and are at loggerheads for regional dominance.

Responsibility for the weekend strike was claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, while the United States has blamed Iran itself for the strike. Iran denies the accusation.

“We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression,” said Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo in a message on Twitter.

“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” he said in a subsequent message.

Following Pompeo’s remark about Iran responsible for drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, several Iranian officials responded on Monday.

“The Saudi-led coalition has been fueling the flames of war in the region with recurrent acts of aggression against Yemen and committing various war crimes for around five years, while Yemenis have proved that they stand against war and aggression,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, according to the state-backed Tasnim News Agency.

Despite the denial, a general said the country is ready for a “full-fledged” war with the United States.

Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco factory
Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco factory in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, on Sept. 14, 2019. (Stringer/Reuters)
This image provided on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, by the U.S. government and DigitalGlobe and annotated by the source, shows a pre-strike overview at Saudi Aramco’s Khurais oil field in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia.(U.S. government/Digital Globe via AP)

Iran, which has some of the world’s lowest fuel prices due to heavy subsidies and the fall of its national currency, has been fighting rampant fuel smuggling by land to neighboring countries and by sea to Gulf Arab states.

Tehran has frequently been capturing vessels for allegedly smuggling oil in the Gulf. Earlier this month Reuters had quoted another ISNA report about Iran’s Coast Guards capturing a vessel and its 12 Filipino crew members for allegedly smuggling oil. The vessel was carrying 284,000 liters of diesel.

Jack Phillips and Reuters contributed to this report.

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