TEHRAN: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized Sunday a foreign oil tanker carrying around two million litres of “smuggled fuel” near the country’s southern coast, local media reported.
“A foreign vessel with the flag of a country from Oceania was identified with two million litres of smuggled diesel,” reported Tasnim news agency.
The ship “was seized in accordance with a court order,” the agency said, quoting Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Haidar Honaryan.
Fourteen crew members were also arrested, he noted, saying they were nationals of “two Asian countries”, without specifying which.
Iran, a major oil producer, has among the cheapest petrol prices in the world, which encourages fuel trafficking.
Iranian forces regularly target tankers illegally transporting fuel in the Gulf.
In September, Iran seized two oil tankers flying the flags of Panama and Tanzania and arrested their crews for allegedly carrying smuggled fuel in the Gulf.
The US military has recently intensified its presence in the Gulf, accusing Iran of seizing vessels, or attempting to, in the strategic shipping lane.
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”.