A bipartisan group of senators is urging President Biden to facilitate the transfer of stolen Iranian oil that has been stuck on a tanker off the coast of Texas.
The tanker Suez Rajan was seized by the US government in April under the pretext of sanctions relief and was forced to sail to Texas instead of China. The tanker is carrying 800,000 barrels of Iranian oil, but US companies are hesitant to discharge the cargo over fears of Iranian reprisals in the Persian Gulf. It has been stuck near Galveston since May 30.
According to Reuters, Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and several other members of the Senate and House told President Biden in a letter that sanctions would become ineffective if American companies were worried about Iranian retaliation.
“It is imperative that the Administration make clear that Iran and designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations cannot prevent our government from carrying out legitimate law enforcement operations,” the lawmakers said. They asked for a briefing from the administration on the progress of discharging the oil.
The US seizure of the Suez Rajan provoked the Iranian seizure of two tankers in the Persian Gulf. The US responded by beefing up its military presence in the waters and is now considering placing armed troops on commercial vessels, a move that risks a direct clash with Iran.