Relevant Indonesian maritime authorities reportedly seized an Iranian-flagged oil tanker loaded with over 200,000 metric tons of light crude oil following a suspected unlawful transfer at sea, they reported on Tuesday.
Iran has been accused by the US and its allies of sailing via crowded shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere for circumnavigating Western sanctions on the nuclear program.
The MT Arman 114 flying the Iranian flag was suspected of being loaded with illegal transhipment activities in Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the maritime security agency said in a statement. The statement specified that the tanker was seized on Friday after relevant authorities found it conducting a suspected transfer of crude oil to a Cameroon-flagged vessel dubbed MT S Tinos.
It explained that the two vessels were caught red-handed while conducting crude oil transhipment.
The vessel comprised a crew of 28 Syrian nationals, three passengers, and 272,568 metric tons of light crude oil worth tens of millions of dollars. The agency did not directly link the transfer to Iran’s government nor accuse Tehran of its involvement.
In May, the two nations signed a trade deal in Jakarta, where President Joko Widodo hosted Ebrahim Raisi, his Iranian counterpart, as Tehran looked to boost its international trade ties. Indonesia’s maritime authorities reported that the tanker denied responding to a communication from Indonesian authorities, had turned off its shipping information system, and did not fly its flag.
When reached out, the MT Arman 114 tried escaping before being chased into Malaysia’s EEZ. It said that relevant Indonesian authorities conducted the seizure with the aid of relevant Malaysian authorities, who allotted special maritime troops with the help of helicopters.
Tehran has strengthened actions against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf since the US tightened the sanctions on Iranian oil exports and other areas of the economy.
The US military declared last week that it had blocked two such attempts by Iran’s navy to seize commercial oil tankers in the international waters off Oman, including one situation wherein the Iranians fired on the tanker. The strengthened US sanctions that aim to cut into Iranian export earnings have resulted in the US seizing Iranian-controlled crude shipments and tankers to other nations.
President Joe Biden took office hopeful that he’d return to a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, which Donald Trump, his predecessor, scrapped. But EU-mediated discussions collapsed, and subsequent mass protests in Iran made Washington more hesitant to make a deal with the clerical state.
Reference: Reuters, Thai PBS World, Business Recorder
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