Suspicions Iran may have seized UAE-based oil tanker

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A small oil tanker that stopped transmitting its location more than two days ago while traveling through a vital waterway near the Persian Gulf didn’t emit a distress call, causing U.S. officials to suspect Iran may have seized the vessel, American defense officials said Tuesday.

The MT Riah, a Panamanian-flagged vessel based in the United Arab Emirates, was traveling Saturday night through the Strait of Hormuz when its tracking system went dark. The disappearance could add to already-heightened tensions between Iran and Western nations in the region.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday that the Islamic republic was assisting a “foreign tanker that had encountered a technical problem” in the Gulf after receiving a distress call.

“According to international regulations… Iranian forces approached it and using a tugboat brought it into Iranian waters for necessary repairs,” Abbas Mousavi said according to an official government Twitter account.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday said his country will retaliate over the seizure of an Iranian super tanker carrying 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil. The vessel was seized with the help of British Royal Marines earlier this month off Gibraltar.

Khamenei called the seizure of the ship “piracy” in a televised speech.

“God willing, the Islamic Republic and its committed forces will not leave this evil without a response,” he said.

Via Gulf News/ The Guardian/ TGCom

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