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Iran seizes another tanker in Strait of Hormuz

U.S. Navy screenshot shows IRGCN fast-attack craft swarming Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi in the Strait of Hormuz on May 3, 2023. Photo: US Navy

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) has seized a Panama-flagged oil tanker named Niovi while it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz at around 6:20 a.m. local time on May 3.

The incident has escalated tensions in the region, and the motive behind the seizure is yet to be confirmed. The vessel’s current status and the condition of its crew remain unclear, as the situation continues to unfold.

As the oil tanker sailed from Dubai and headed towards the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, it was suddenly surrounded by a dozen fast-attack craft of the IRGCN while in the midst of the Strait. Following this, the IRGCN compelled the vessel to change its course and directed it towards Iranian territorial waters near the coast of Bandar ‘Abbas, Iran.

The international community has expressed deep concern over Iran’s latest seizure of the Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi in the Strait of Hormuz. This act is in clear violation of international law and poses a significant threat to regional security and stability.

This is not an isolated incident as Iran has previously interfered with the navigational rights of 15 other internationally flagged merchant vessels over the last two years, including US Navy ships.

As stated by US Naval Forces, this aggressive behavior is unwarranted, irresponsible, and constitutes a present threat to global maritime security and the world economy.

Six days prior to the seizure of the Panama-flagged oil tanker Niovi, another incident occurred in the Gulf of Oman, where the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy captured the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker Advantage Sweet while it was navigating through international waters.

This event has heightened concerns over Iran’s repeated disregard for international maritime laws and its increasing aggression towards foreign vessels passing through the region. The international community continues to closely monitor the situation and assess the implications of these actions, said the US Navy.