Iran seized a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, the US Navy said, amid broader tensions over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
The Navy’s Fifth Fleet, based in the Middle East, has identified the ship as Advantage Sweet. Satellite tracking data for the vessel from MarineTraffic.com showed it in the Gulf of Oman, north of the Omani capital, Muscat, on Thursday afternoon. She had just come from Kuwait and listed her destination as Houston, Texas.
“The oil tanker issued a distress call during the seizure,” the Fifth Fleet said. Iran’s actions contradict international law and destabilize regional security and stability. Iran must release the oil tanker immediately.”
The ship’s owners could not be reached for comment. Iran did not immediately acknowledge the seizure, and Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Thursday’s seizure by Iran is the latest in a series of kidnappings and bombings that have rocked an area that includes the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all traded oil passes.
The events began after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the Iranian nuclear deal with world powers, which led to Tehran significantly restricting uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Also, the US Navy has blamed Iran for a series of irregular mine attacks on ships that destroyed tankers in 2019, as well as for a drone attack on an Israeli-linked oil tanker that killed two European crew in 2021.
Tehran denies carrying out the attacks, but a broader shadow war between Iran and the West has broken out in the turbulent waters of the region. Tanker busts have been a part of it since 2019.
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