The United States made “unprofessional and risky” attempts to impede the seizure of a foreign oil tanker smuggling Iranian fuel in the Persian Gulf last week, but the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) successfully confiscated the vessel, according to an IRGC commander.
The vessel that had military backing from the United States was seized by the IRGC naval forces on Thursday, Rear Admiral Ramazan Zir-Rahi, the commander of the IRGC’s second naval zone, announced on Monday.
He said that the US Navy tried to intervene as IRGC naval forces moved to intercept the oil tanker involved in smuggling one million liters of Iranian oil and gas.
“On July 6, the forces of the IRGC's second naval zone were inspecting a vessel with the commercial name of NADA 2 that was involved in the organized smuggling of the Islamic Republic’s oil and gas in the Persian Gulf, when the Americans started a series of unprofessional and risky actions in order to prevent this legal measure,” he said.
Footage shows the moment Iran's IRGC seized a foreign oil tanker smuggling the country's fuel in the Persian Gulf. pic.twitter.com/WzPe9vxc6n— PressTV Extra (@PresstvExtra) July 10, 2023
The commander said his forces found out during the inspection that the captain of the intruding vessel was in communication with the US command and control center in the region, seeking assistance for escape.
Zir-Rahi said it was clear in the recorded conversations between the officer at the US control and command center and the captain that the American officer had asked him to stop the engine and wait for help. The captain was told to “stall the vessel’s engine until the American military forces arrive for help."
The US Navy deployed fighter jets, surveillance aircraft, helicopters and patrol vessels to prevent the Iranian operation, the commander explained.
“The Americans scrambled two A-10 surface combat aircraft, a P-8A manned reconnaissance aircraft, two Hawk C helicopters, an MQ9 unmanned aircraft and dispatching US patrol vessels to the site,” Zir-Rahi said.
Stressing that the Americans tried until the very last moment to prevent the seizure of the intruding vessel, Zir-Rahi said, “With vigilance, precision, professional behavior, and the power of the IRGC Navy, the illegal and unprofessional actions of the Americans in the Persian Gulf were confronted and resulted in their failure and humiliation.”
State media reports announced on Thursday that the naval forces of the IRGC had confiscated a vessel with 900 tons of smuggled fuel and arrested all the 12 crew members onboard.
No further details about the identity of the vessel and the nationality of its crew members were released at the time.
The IRGC’s Navy confiscated more than 50 million liters of smuggled fuel, mainly diesel, in various missions last year.
It has over the past years foiled several attacks on both Iranian and foreign tankers in the strategic Persian Gulf region and other high seas.