Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Officials tell NWN Iran has seized Vietnamese oil tanker

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (NWN) – Iran seized a Vietnamese-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman last month and is still holding the vessel off Bandar Abbas, two US officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

One of the officers said troops from the paramilitary Iranian Revolutionary Guard took control of the MV Southis at gunpoint on October 24. The seizure was monitored by US forces, but ultimately did not act as the vessel sank into Iranian waters.

The purpose of the seizure is not clear. Officials in Vietnam could not be immediately contacted for comment. Ship-tracking data analyzed by the NWN from MarineTraffic.com showed the ship still on Tuesday off Bandar Abbas.

The two US officials spoke on condition of anonymity as information was yet to be made public amid ongoing efforts to restart talks in Vienna over its broken nuclear deal with Iran.

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Officials spoke to the NWN when Iranian state television offered a series of conflicting reports on Wednesday about a confrontation between the Guard and the US Navy’s Middleeast-based 5th Fleet. It also describes the incident in the Gulf of Oman, in which the US Navy has detained the vessel and guards are bringing it back to the Islamic Republic.

US officials rejected Iran’s version of events. Tehran also did not specify the name of the ship, nor gave an explanation as to why the Navy targeted it. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

State TV later released footage showing an Iranian surveillance drone monitoring a red tanker in the Gulf of Oman. Iranian commandos then boarded the boat from a helicopter as the small speedboat surrounded the ship.

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The Gulf of Oman sits near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, through which one-fifth of all traded oil passes.

Nearly a year after then-President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and imposed crushing sanctions, the waters of the Gulf of Oman have seen a series of explosions and kidnappings. The US Navy has accused Iran of mining ships and recently drone strikes another tanker, killing a Briton and a Romanian.

While Iran denies carrying out the attacks, it comes amid a widespread shadow war that has rocked the region.

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

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Nation World News Desk
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