Iran says it seized foreign oil tanker in Gulf for smuggling fuel

Nationalities of ship and crew not released

By Sara Mazloumsaki and Peter Wilkinson, CNN
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(CNN) - Iran said Sunday that it had seized a foreign oil tanker that it claimed was smuggling fuel to Arab states.

The tanker was intercepted Wednesday night by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's 2nd Marine Corps, according to Iranian news agency ISNA.

Iran's state media Press TV said the vessel had seven crew members and was carrying 700,000 liters of fuel, or about 4,500 barrels. If full, this amount would make it a relatively small tanker.

The nationalities of the ship and of the crew have not been revealed.

Ramadan Zirahi, commander of that naval unit, told ISNA that the vessel carrying the "seized smuggled fuel" was transferred to Bushehr and that the fuel was delivered to the National Oil Distribution Company of Bushehr in coordination with the judiciary.

Zirahi said the 2nd Marine Corps floating units were guarding the national interest and "will not hesitate for a moment."

Iran's seizure last month of two tankers -- one Panamanian-flagged and one British -- marked an escalation in the standoff between the Islamic Republic and Western powers after US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal last year.

Iran has released nine of the 12 Indian crew members who were on board the Panamanian-flagged tanker that it seized after claiming the vessel was carrying 1 million liters of smuggled fuel.

Iran has granted consular access to 18 Indian crew members of the seized British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero.

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