Iran’s recent seizure of a US-bound oil tanker came after the Biden administration forced a tanker carrying Iranian oil to deliver the cargo to the US instead of China, Financial Times reported Friday.
Using the pretext of sanctions enforcement, the US Justice Department seized the tanker Suez Rajan with a court order with the cooperation of one company involved with the vessel after it was loaded with Iranian oil.
According to Reuters, the US confiscation of an Iranian oil shipment came five days before Iran seized a US-bound Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker, the Advantage Sweet, near Oman. For their part, Iranian officials said they took the Advantage Sweet after it collided with an Iranian fishing vessel and tried to flee the area.
A US official told Financial Times that the seizure of the Advantage Sweet “appears to be in retaliation for a prior US seizure of Iranian oil, which Iran recently attempted to get back but failed.”
The US has a history of seizing tankers carrying Iranian oil and gas and outright stealing the cargo by selling it off for profit. Iran has also previously seized tankers in retaliation for US actions.
Last year, the US seized a tanker carrying Iranian oil in Greece and attempted to take the cargo, but a Greek court ruled against the confiscation. Tehran seized two Greek tankers in response to the US move and released them after the court’s ruling.
In 2021, the US government sold 2 million barrels of Iranian oil for $110 million from a tanker seized near the UAE. During the Trump administration, the US sold off Iranian gas that was bound for Venezuela.