Iran’s recent provocations agains the Middle Eastern oil industry have taken a step for the worse this week, after the Persian nation seized control of a large tanker ship in the Strait of Hormuz.
Weeks ago, Iran was implicated in several plots to disrupt the flow of oil from the Middle East. Magnetic mines, underwater drones, and unmanned aerial bombing runs were utilized in the attacks, which many believe are in retaliation for fresh US-led sanctions against the regime.
Iran has upped the ante this week, however, after taking control of a foreign ship.
Iran said on Thursday it had seized a foreign tanker smuggling fuel in the Gulf, and the U.S. military commander in the region said the United States would work “aggressively” to ensure free passage of vessels through the vital waterway.
The United States blames Iran for a series of attacks on shipping in the world’s most important oil artery since mid-May, accusations Tehran rejects but which have raised fears the long-time foes could stumble into war.
It was unclear if the impounded ship was the same vessel Iran towed to safety on Sunday after sending a distress signal. Iranian state television had earlier said it was the same ship but the Revolutionary Guards statement did not confirm that.
The United States has long been monitoring the developments in the Gulf, and has previously warned Iran against such actions.
The State Department reacted to this most recent incident similarly.
A spokesman had the following to say:
“The United States strongly condemns the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with safe passage in and around the Strait of Hormuz,” the spokesperson added in an email to Reuters after Iran said it had seized a foreign tanker smuggling fuel in the Gulf.
“Iran must cease this illicit activity and release the reportedly seized crew and vessel immediately.”
President Trump has indicated that we would prefer a diplomatic solution when it comes to Iran, even going so far as to call back a proposed airstrike on the nation after they downed a US drone.
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