Tanker sits off Iranian port, may have been breaking embargo carrying Iranian oil to China - Details sparse
Iran seized a Vietnamese-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman last month and still holds the vessel, two U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday, revealing the latest provocation in Mideast waters as tensions escalate between Iran and the United States over Tehran’s nuclear program, AP reports.
One of the officials said that Iran’s powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guard troops took control of the MV Southys on Oct. 24 at gunpoint. U.S. forces had monitored the seizure, but ultimately didn’t take action as the vessel sailed into Iranian waters.
A motive for the seizure remains unclear. Officials at the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Ship-tracking data analyzed by the AP from MarineTraffic.com showed the vessel still off Iran’s southern port of Bandar Abbas on Tuesday. A satellite photo from Planet Labs Inc. also showed the vessel off Bandar Abbas in recent days.
The two U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity as the information had yet to be made public amid ongoing attempts to restart talks over Iran’s tattered 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Negotiations have stalled in Vienna since the election of hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi in June, allowing Iran to press ahead with its nuclear program and raising alarm in Western capitals. Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said last week that talks would resume in November, but didn’t provide a specific date.
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