TEHRAN — Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Saturday they had seized a boat smuggling diesel in the Gulf and arrested its 11 foreign crew members.
“Thanks to our intelligence services and in a coordinated operation, our navy seized a foreign vessel with 11 crew members in our territorial waters,” said Guards’ Colonel Ahmad Hajian, according to state television’s Iribnews website.
Hajian did not specify either the date of the seizure, the nationality of the boat or its crew, or further details about the vessel and its origin.
“After the inspection, more than 150,000 liters [approximately 40,000 gallons] of contraband diesel were seized and the 11 foreign crew members were brought before a court,” he added.
The incident comes in the wake of a series of attacks on commercial vessels in the sea lanes serving the Gulf, where a large portion of the world’s oil is produced and shipped.
On November 10, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced the release of the Vietnamese-flagged MV Sothys tanker which they had seized in October in the Sea of Oman.
The United States Navy has blamed Iran for a series of limpet mine attacks on vessels that damaged tankers in 2019, as well as for a fatal drone attack on an Israeli-linked oil tanker that killed two European crew members earlier this year.
Just a few months ago, Iranian hijackers stormed and briefly captured a Panama-flagged asphalt tanker off the United Arab Emirates.
Tehran denies carrying out the attacks, but a wider shadow war between Iran and the West has played out in the region’s volatile waters since then-US president Donald Trump withdrew the US from Iran’s nuclear deal in 2018 and imposed crushing sanctions on the country, while Tehran boosted its stocks of uranium enriched above the percentage allowed in the agreement.
The latest incident comes as Iran is preparing to resume talks with major powers aimed at ending a standoff over the deal.