The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has issued a stern warning to any entity involved in offloading oil from its seized tankers. The threat was issued by IRGC navy commander Alireza Tangsiri on Thursday and was reported by state media outlets.
The warning comes as a response to the US confiscation of an Iranian oil shipment off the coast of Malaysia in April. This move was said to be a part of the US efforts to enforce sanctions against Iran.
Commander Tangsiri made it clear that Tehran holds Washington accountable for the unloading of the oil from the impounded tanker. Insiders, preferring to remain anonymous, confirmed to Reuters that Washington had taken charge of the oil aboard the Suez Rajan, subsequent to a court order.
In a seemingly related move, on Monday, the US divulged plans to deploy additional F-35 and F-16 fighter jets and a warship to the Middle East. This decision is said to be an attempt to monitor significant waterways in the region, following Iran’s recent actions including the seizure and alleged harassment of commercial vessels.
The past few years, and especially recent months, have seen rising tensions between Iran and the US, with numerous attacks on ships in the Gulf waters reported since 2019. The Strait of Hormuz, a key point between Iran and Oman, sees approximately one-fifth of the world’s crude oil and oil products passing through.
This year has seen an upsurge in military seizures and attacks on commercial vessels in the Gulf waterways. The situation worsened in May, with two tankers being seized within a week, one of which was headed for Texas.
The US Navy maintains that the recent deployment of the warship is aimed at ensuring regional maritime security and stability.
In April, the IRGC publicised footage of its forces capturing the US-bound, Chinese-owned tanker, Advantage Sweet. The video displayed commandos boarding the vessel’s decks, descending from a helicopter on ropes.
The US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet expressed concern at the time, stating, “Iran’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with navigational rights in regional waters are a threat to maritime security and the global economy.”
Since these events, Iran has attacked a tanker, inflicting minor damage to the Richmond Voyager off the Oman coast. The US Navy shared drone footage of the incident on July 5, revealing that the USS McFaul missile destroyer prevented the vessel from being captured.
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