Iran claims to have seized another oil tanker in Gulf

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards says it seized another oil tanker in the Persian Gulf. 

By World Israel News Staff

The Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps says it has seized another oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, Iranian media reports on Sunday.

The tanker, carrying 700,000 liters of fuel, was taken as early as Wednesday, according to the reports.

“The foreign vessel was receiving fuel from other ships and was transferring it to the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf,” he said.

Seven sailors of varying nationalities were detained, IRGC commander Ramezan Zirahi told Iran’s Fars news agency on Sunday.

Last week, Britain informed Iran that it wouldn’t exchange an Iranian oil tanker seized at Gibraltar for a British oil tanker later seized by Iran.

“We are not going to barter: if people or nations have detained U.K.-flagged illegally then the rule of law and rule of international law must be upheld,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

“We are not going to barter a ship that was detained legally with a ship that was detained illegally: that’s not the way that Iran will come in from the cold,” he said. “So I am afraid some kind of barter or haggle or linkage is not on the table.”

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US coalition to protect shipping

The latest seizure may provide added incentive for world leaders to join an effort by the U.S. to form a coalition to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf area against Iranian threats.

Speaking at a meeting on Sunday between U.S. and Australian leaders, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he has already gotten a good response from allies and some announcements could be expected soon. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that a lot of conversations are taking place.

But their Australian counterparts here made no commitments.

“The request the United States has made is a very serious one, and a complex one. That’s why we are currently giving this request very serious consideration,” said Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds. “No decision has been made.”

She said her country will decide based on what is in its own best sovereign interests.

Called “Operation Sentinel,” the plan was triggered in June amid Trump administration concerns that Iran was behind a series of attacks on commercial ships in the Persian Gulf region.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said the Pentagon has developed a specific plan, and the U.S. military’s main role would be to provide “maritime domain awareness” – intelligence and surveillance information – to the ships of coalition partners that would conduct patrols in vulnerable waterways like the Strait of Hormuz, which separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman, as well as the Bab el Mandeb, a heavily trafficked strait between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa.

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Any escorting of commercial ships would be done by military ships sailing under the flag of the commercial vessel, he said.

Esper broached the idea of a coalition to allies during a NATO meeting, but so far the U.S. has received few public commitments from other nations. Instead, some European nations have expressed concerns that the operation could provoke conflict, and they are more interested in a diplomatic solution.

Pompeo and Esper, however, suggested Sunday that nations are quietly expressing some support and may be willing to make public commitments soon.