Iran seizes vessel in Strait of Hormuz for suspected fuel smuggling
The ship was carrying nearly 1.3 million litres of fuel and has 16 Malaysian crew members on board
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Monday seized a ship near Abu Musa Island in the Arabian Gulf, near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, on suspicion of smuggling fuel, state news agency IRNA said.
The ship was carrying nearly 1,312,000 litres of fuel. The report did not say what nation's flag the vessel was flying, but there were 16 Malaysian crew members on board.
Tehran has often seized boats that it says are being used for smuggling oil in the Arabian Gulf.
If the ship seizure is confirmed, it would represent the latest move by Iran to hamper navigation in the waterway, one of the most vital routes for global energy supplies.
The islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunb lie a few kilometres off the UAE coastline and are regarded as strategically important way points in the Strait of Hormuz.
The three islands were seized by Iran in 1971 just as the UAE was formed.
The Tunbs had historically belonged to Ras al Khaimah and Abu Musa to Sharjah, when both emirates were still part of the Trucial States.
Washington and other Western powers have accused Tehran of lashing out after the US withdrew from the nuclear deal signed in 2015.
It then imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy to disrupt what it says is malign activity across the Middle East.
Iran has proxies operating in Lebanon, Yemen, the Gaza Strip and Syria.
Updated: December 30, 2019 07:27 PM