Iran Seizes Second Oil Tanker in a Week, US Navy Says

Iranian forces captured a foreign vessel on Wednesday, May 3rd, the second ship to be harassed and seized by the Middle Eastern country in a week, the U.S. Navy said. The Niovi, a commercial oil tanker flying the Panama flag, was passing through the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman when it was overtaken by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN). 12 members of the IRGCN swarmed and bordered the Niovi. The IRGCN then forced the crew to turn the ship around and sail back into Iranian territorial waters. The ship was transiting from Dubai to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates when it was captured. This is Iran’s second unlawful attack on a foreign ship in less than a week. The Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker Advantage Sweet was taken last week by Iranian forces after leaving Kuwait en route to Houston, the U.S. Navy announced Sunday. This is the latest escalation in a series of seizures or attacks on commercial vessels in Gulf waters since 2019.

In Iran’s first response, Tehran’s prosecutor announced the oil tanker was seized on a judicial order following a complaint by a plaintiff, the judiciary’s Mizan news agency said. No further details were provided. About a fifth of the world’s crude oil and oil products passes through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow choke point between Iran and Oman, according to data from analytics firm Vortexa. Indirect talks between Tehran and Washington to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear pact with world powers have stalled since September over a range of issues, including the Islamic Republic’s violent crackdown on popular protests, Tehran’s sale of drones to Russia, and acceleration of its nuclear program. Perhaps it is all related. Either way, the US Navy will be on the lookout for Iranian ships.

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