Officials inform AP that Iran took Vietnamese oil tanker

Officials inform AP that Iran took Vietnamese oil tanker

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP)– Iran took a Vietnamese-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman last month and still holds the vessel, two U.S.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP)– Iran took 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, exposing the latest provocation in Mideast waters as stress escalate between Iran and the United States over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Iran’s powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guard troops took control of the MV Southys, a vessel that analysts suspect of attempting to transfer approved Iranian petroleum to Asia, on Oct. 24 at gunpoint. U.S. forces had actually monitored the seizure, but ultimately didn’t do something about it as the vessel cruised into Iranian waters.

Iran commemorated their capture of the vessel in significant video aired on state television, the day before the 42 nd anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

Authorities at the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington did not right away respond to a demand for remark. Ship-tracking information examined by the AP from MarineTraffic.com showed the vessel still off Iran’s southern port of Bandar Abbas on Tuesday.

The 2 U.S. authorities spoke on condition of privacy as the information had yet to be made public amid ongoing efforts to restart talks over Iran’s tattered 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Negotiations have stalled in Vienna because the election of hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi in June, enabling Iran to press ahead with its nuclear program and raising alarm in Western capitals.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator stated last week that talks would resume in November, however didn’t offer a particular date. The European Union late Wednesday stated the negotiations would resume Nov. 29 in Vienna.

The authorities spoke with AP after Iranian state television used a series of inconsistent reports about a fight between the Guard and the U.S. Navy’s Mideast-based fifth Fleet. State TV looked for to cast the incident as an act of American aggressiveness versus Iran in the Gulf of Oman, with the U.S. Navy detaining a tanker carrying Iranian oil and the Guard freeing it and bringing it back to the Islamic Republic.

The U.S. officials dismissed Iran’s version of occasions. Iran’s objective to the United Nations did not right away respond to a request for comment.

Iranian authorities heralded the ship’s impoundment as a heroic act, with Raisi lauding the Revolutionary Guard on Twitter. The country’s oil minister, Javad Owji, thanked the Guard for “rescuing the Iranian oil tanker from American pirates.”

State television released video footage revealing an Iranian monitoring drone monitoring a hulking red tanker in the Gulf of Oman. Heavily armed Iranian commandos then rappelled onto the boat from a helicopter as little speedboats surrounded the vessel and an Iranian catamaran ship patrolled the waters.

The video appeared to show Iranian Guard troops pointing exposed deck-mounted gatling gun at the USS The Sullivans, an Arleigh Burke-class assisted missile destroyer. Pictures launched by the U.S. military show The Sullivans just recently in the Arabian Sea near the Gulf of Oman.

The status and makeup of the Sothys’ team wasn’t instantly understood.

However, the Southys had actually been on the radar of United Versus a Nuclear Iran, a New York-based advocacy group long suspicious of the Islamic Republic. In a letter dated Oct. 11 resolved to the Vietnam Maritime Administration, the group said its analysis of satellite pictures showed the Southy got a ship-to-ship transfer of oil in June from an oil tanker called the Oman Pride.

The U.S. Treasury determined the Oman Pride in August as being used to transfer Iranian oil as part of a smuggling plan to enhance the Guard’s expeditionary Quds Force. That Iranian oil winds up being offered into East Asia, the Treasury declared, without recognizing a specific country.

Iran’s seizure of the Southys would be the most recent in a string of hijackings and surges to roil the Gulf of Oman, which sits near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all traded oil passes.

The U.S. Navy blamed Iran for a series of limpet mine attacks on vessels that damaged tankers in 2019, in addition to for a fatal drone attack on an Israeli-linked oil tanker that eliminated two European crew members earlier this year. Simply a few months back, Iranian hijackers stormed and briefly recorded a Panama-flagged asphalt tanker off the United Arab Emirates.

Tehran rejects performing the attacks, but a larger shadow war between Iran and the West has played out in the area’s unstable waters because then-President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear handle 2018 and enforced squashing sanctions on the nation.

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Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre in Dubai and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, added to this report.

Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press

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