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  • Iran seized an oil tanker in the Gulf.

    Iran seized an oil tanker in the Gulf. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 July 2019

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps seized a vessel in the Gulf for allegedly smuggling oil as Britain said it is seeking further information. 

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps seized a foreign tanker “smuggling fuel” in the Gulf Thursday as reported by state media.

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"A foreign vessel smuggling one million liters of fuel in the Larak Island of the Persian Gulf has been seized," the station said, adding that the ship was seized Sunday.

"The vessel that Iran towed to its waters after receiving a distress call, was later seized with the order from the court as we found out that it was smuggling fuel," the IRGC said in a statement. 

Britain is seeking further information urging the Iranian authorities to de-escalate tensions. “We’re seeking further information following reports of a tanker seized in the Gulf. We continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region,” a government spokeswoman said.

“We are continuously monitoring the security situation there and are committed to maintaining freedom of navigation, in accordance with international law.”

Oil prices initially rose more than 1 percent Thursday after Iran announced sizing the foreign tanker but prices gradually lost their gains as it emerged that the vessel had a small cargo 

Earlier this week a Panama flagged tanker Riah, stopped transmitting its location Saturday while sailing through the Strait of Hormuz. 

Riah’s last known location was in Iranian waters and a U.S. official told reporters that they had a suspicion that Iran seized the vessel. 

However, the seized vessel was 9 km southeast of the Panama vessel. On Tuesday Iran announced it had assisted a "foreign tanker that had encountered a technical problem" in the Gulf and Thursday they informed that the same tanker was smuggling fuel. 

Tensions in the Gulf region is escalating as tankers are being sabotaged and seized in the past few weeks, amid a standoff between Iran and the United States over the historic 2015 nuclear deal, which Trump has opted to withdraw from in favor of Israel and oil-rich Arab nations. 

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