Iran seizes Tanzania, Panama flagged tankers for alleged smuggling

Oil Ship

What you need to know:

  • Iranian naval forces have on several occasions in recent years seized foreign-flagged vessels in the Persian Gulf for alleged smuggling of fuel or violation of maritime rules.

Iran has seized two oil tankers allegedly carrying smuggled fuel in the Gulf and arrested their crews, state television announced on Friday.

However, they did not name the vessel seized.

"The Revolutionary Guards naval forces seized two ships over the course of the last two days," state television said, citing Mohammad-Sharif Shirali, a Guards commander.

"The seized tankers... flying the flags of Panama and Tanzania were transporting more than 1.5 million litres (400,000 gallons) of Iranian oil and gas," he said.

"The Guards escorted the confiscated ships to the port of Mahshahr" in the country's southwest, Shirali said.

"Thirty-seven crew members were handed over to judicial authorities in Mahshahr," he added.

In recent weeks, the US military has intensified its presence in the Gulf, accusing Iran of seizing vessels, or attempting to, in this shipping lane that is strategic to global trade.

On July 6, the US military said the Guards had seized a commercial ship in the Gulf, one day after having accused Iranian forces of carrying out two similar attempts off the coast of Oman.

Tehran said the intercepted ship had been transporting more than one million litres of "smuggled fuel".