On Monday, Iran condemned Washington’s moves to steal Iranian oil as an act of piracy. In the latest seizure, the US is trying to take 2 million barrels of oil off the Liberian-flagged Achilleas tanker that was destined for China.
Speaking at a news conference, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh condemned the move but said the oil did not belong to Tehran. “This shipment does not belong to the Iranian government. It belongs to the private sector,” he said.
“It is very unfortunate that such an act of piracy is happening under the new US administration,” Khatibzadeh added. The Trump administration seized several shipments of Iranian gasoline that were bound for Venezuela. Last week, a US official said Washington had sold over one million barrels of Iranian fuel under its sanctions program.
The Achilleas tanker last reported its location on Sunday and said it was near the US port of Galveston, Texas, a sign that the US will be getting the cargo. The US Justice Department filed a lawsuit last week to obtain the oil.
With US sanctions targeting the maritime industry, Washington is able to pressure ship owners into giving up their cargo over threats of losing insurance. Without insurance, ships would be denied entry to almost every port.