Justice Dept Seeks Court Authorization to Keep Seized ‘Iranian’ Oil

Liberian tanker loaded near UAE, was to sell cargo to China

The US Justice Department continues to seek legal authority to seize oil that doesn’t belong to it and then sell it by arguing that Iran would benefit if they didn’t do so. The latest cargo is 2 million barrels sitting in the Liberian Achilleas tanker off Brazil.

The Justice Department is arguing that the ship acquired the oil in a ship-to-ship transfer near a UAE port, and presented it as Iranian oil benefiting terrorists. The cargo was meant to be sent to China, and was identified as Basran crude, from Iraq, not Iran.

Officials aren’t offering details of how they got hold of this ship/cargo, but it is now in Brazil, pending court approval to bring it up to the Gulf of Mexico, where the Justice Department would sell it.

This would be the first seizure by the Biden Administration, and the second successful one overall. In August 2020 the Justice Department seized another set of tankers and accused them of talking Iranian oil to Venezuela. Two other seizure attempts were made before that and rejected.

The case will be built around a long chain of events identifying the cargo as Iranian. The US claims the cargo went from ship-to-ship three times since May 2020, where they claim it started out on Sirri Island in Iran.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.