Middle East

IRGC says it thwarted US attempt to confiscate oil in the Gulf of Oman

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said on Wednesday that its speedboats intercepted a US military vessel in the Gulf of Oman that was attempting to confiscate Iranian oil exports, Iranian media reported.

US officials denied the reports, saying that in reality, Iranian forces had seized a Vietnamese-flagged oil tanker last month and US naval forces were just monitoring the situation.

“I’ve seen the Iranian claims, they are absolutely totally false and untrue … it’s a bogus claim,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“The only seizing that was done was by Iran,” Kirby said.

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The US ship was said to be confiscating Iranian oil from one tanker and diverting it to another bound for an unknown destination. The IRGC claimed it landed on the deck of the second tanker and diverted it into Iran’s territorial waters.

The US forces attempted to pursue the tanker with helicopters and warships but failed to catch it, according to the report, which claimed that the US forces then tried and failed a second time to block the tanker from entering Iranian waters.

Iranian boats take part in naval war game in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz southern Iran April 22, 2010. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards successfully deployed a new speed boat capable of destroying enemy ships as war games began on Thursday in a waterway crucial for global oil supplies, Iran (credit: REUTERS/FARS NEWS)

“With the timely and authoritative action of the Guards’ naval forces, the US terrorist Navy’s operation to steal Iranian oil in the Sea of Oman failed,” the IRGC said in a statement published by Iranian state media.

“The tanker carrying Iran’s oil docked at the port of Bandar Abbas on October 25.”

The TankerTrackers site identified the ship taken by the Iranians as the SOTHYS on Thursday, saying that the incident seemed to have happened on October 24, because the ship appeared at Bandar Abbas the following morning.

TankerTrackers added that the ships appeared to have been heading north into the Strait of Hormuz from the Gulf of Oman when the incident took place. The site rejected Iran’s claims, saying that the SOTHYS departed the Middle East in June and then waited about six weeks north of Longkou, China before she was rejected entry and sailed back to the Middle East with her Iranian cargo. The site added that there was nowhere else left for the SOTHYS to go other than Bandar Abbas, because she could no longer go to China.

In recent days, Iranian media reported that Iran’s Navy has reportedly thwarted an attempted “pirate attack” on an oil tanker sailing for the Gulf of Aden, south of Yemen and past the Red Sea.

Video of the alleged US Navy operation.

Four boats, each carrying six armed pirates, were en route to hijacking the tanker, which was heading for the Bab al-Mandab Strait, but they were warded off by an Iranian Navy squad aboard the vessel, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News Agency.

The report claimed the pirates tried to hijack the vessel but were scared off by the warning shots, which is in line with many attempted pirate attacks.

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Separately, American officials told Reuters that multiple drones, believed to be Iranian, came close to the US Navy amphibious assault ship Essex in the Strait of Hormuz in the past 24 hours.

Michael Starr and Aaron Reich contributed to this report.

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