Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized a foreign boat smuggling fuel in the Gulf and arrested its 11 crew members, a senior justice official said on Saturday.
“Naval forces have seized a foreign vessel carrying smuggled fuel in Persian Gulf waters,” said Mojtaba Ghahramani, chief justice for the southern province of Hormozgan, state television reported.
“Over 220,000 liters of contraband fuel were seized and 11 foreign crew members were arrested for investigation,” Ghahramani said.
Ghahramani did not specify the date of seizure of the boat, nor the origin of the vessel or the nationality of the crew.
The guards also captured an “Iranian boat carrying 20,000 liters of smuggled diesel, intended to supply the foreign vessel” and arrested three crew members, Ghahramani added, noting that the seizure was made “in territorial waters”. from Iran.
The incident comes following a series of vessel seizures in the sea lanes serving the Gulf, where much of the world’s oil is produced and shipped.
In November, Iran announced the arrest of a foreign boat carrying 150,000 liters of smuggled diesel and the arrest of 11 foreign crew members, without giving further details.
The seizure came days after Iran announced the release of the Vietnamese-flagged tanker MV Sothys, which they had seized in October.
The IRGC has become the focus of an ongoing debate between Iran and the United States as part of negotiations to reinstate the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Tehran has demanded that the IRGC be removed from the US list of foreign terrorist organizations as a condition for reinstating the 2015 deal, going so far as to threaten to risk the negotiations as a whole.
But the US has indicated it will not be convinced by the Iranian request, with the Washington Post on Saturday quoting a US official as saying the Biden administration will not remove the IRGC from its terror list even if it turns out to be a deal breaker for the revival of the nuclear deal.