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Iranian Navy Seizes Oil Tanker Headed to Houston, Sparks International Uproar

by Joshua Brown
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The Iranian navy took control of an oil tanker from the Marshall Islands on Thursday. The tanker was sailing in the Gulf of Oman and was heading to the U.S. This capture happened during a time when Iran is facing tensions about its nuclear activities, and it’s important because the Gulf of Oman provides energy for many countries around the world.

The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet located in the Middle East found out that the ship named Advantage Sweet was near Muscat, the capital of Oman and it was coming from Kuwait on its way to Houston. At 1:15 pm while sailing on international waters, this vessel sent an urgent call for help and Iran took control of it.

The 5th Fleet said Iran’s actions are wrong and dangerous, and they should let go of the oil tanker. At first, the United States Navy thought that Iran’s paramilitary group, called the Revolutionary Guard had taken it, but later a US military aircraft found out that it was actually caught by Iran’s navy instead.

Iranian authorities reported that there was a crash between one of their boats and another unidentified boat in the Persian Gulf. Some of the Iranian crew members were injured and some are missing.

The Advantage Sweet was travelling through the Persian Gulf on Wednesday. Along the way, it passed by the Strait of Hormuz where a large amount (1/5) of oil is transported. Iran had accused other ships that were traveling there of doing something wrong but it turned out to be just an attempt to get foreign countries to negotiate with them.

A maritime security firm called Dryad Global said that Iran has been doing a lot of “harassing activity” in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman for a long time. The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet reported that within the last two years, Iran had even seized at least five commercial vessels.

The top U.S. commander for the Middle East, Gen. Erik Kurilla, said that it is wrong and against international rules when Iran continues to bother ships and affects people’s right to move around in waters near them. He called the Iranian act of taking a tanker an “illegal seizure”, meaning they took it without permission.

Advantage Tankers, a Turkish company who manages the vessel (ship), said that Iranian navy has taken it for an international disagreement. On board were 24 Indian crew members who are safe and cared for. Advantage Tankers made sure to say that their number one priority is making sure that their crew members stay out of danger.

The boat is owned by a company from China. Data from Refinitiv said the boat, called Advantage Sweet, was carrying oil from Kuwait for Chevron Corporation of California.

Chevron, who is aware of what is happening, released a statement saying that they are currently in contact with the people controlling and running the boat with hope that this situation will be solved as soon as possible.

Thursday’s seizure of a ship by Iran is not the first instance of trouble in the area. All this started when President Donald Trump said that the US was no longer part of an agreement with Iran that essentially let them earn money but only if they limited how much uranium they could produce.

The U.S Navy says that Iran was responsible for two separate incidents in 2019 and 2021. In 2019, Iranian forces planted explosives on boats causing damage to the vessels. In 2021, an Israeli-connected ship was struck by a drone, killing two crew members from Europe.

Iran has been involved in an ongoing fight against the West since 2019, which includes taking control of ships, including two Greek tankers they captured and kept until November. Additionally, Iran-backed forces in Syria carried out an attack that killed a U.S. contractor, and the U.S responded with airstrikes in retaliation.

Talks about Iran’s nuclear deal have stopped for more than a year. Iran has started to use very advanced machines which give it lots of enriched uranium. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said that if Iran uses this uranium, it will become powerful enough to make a few nuclear weapons.

Robert Badendieck from Associated Press wrote a report from Istanbul. To keep up with Jon Gambrell’s updates, follow him at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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