An oil tanker detained by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps has been released by court order after its cargo of stolen Iranian oil was unloaded at Bandar Abbas port, the IRGC said on Wednesday.
The tanker, the MV Sothys, was confiscated on Oct. 24 in the Gulf of Oman where IRGC forces thwarted an attempt by the US Navy to escort the stolen cargo to the destination which the US government wanted.
Iran's oil sales are subject to the most draconian US sanctions ever imposed on a country, but the illegal measures have not deterred the Islamic Republic from sending shipments to their customers.
Earlier Wednesday, new agencies said satellite tracking data and other signals suggested that the detained oil tanker had left Iran and entered the Gulf of Oman.
The incident involved dramatic scenes in which IRGC speedboats and other assets rounded up US warships trying to escort the Sothys to safety.
The US was caught off guard, especially after the IRGC released a video of the incident in which Iranian forces repelled American destroyers.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby then claimed that US forces had come to the scene to monitor the situation.
IRGC spokesman Brigadier General Ramazan Sharif dismissed it, stating that US forces had a mission to protect the MV Sothys.
“They had come to provide support to the pirates of the Iranian oil and to escort them,” Sharif was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.
The United States has a history of carrying out piracy acts against Iranian oil tankers under the pretext that the shipments violated US sanctions against Iran.
In August last year, the US claimed that it had confiscated 1.1 million barrels of Iranian oil headed for Venezuela, but officials in Tehran said the cargoes did not belong to Iran.