Iran denies that oil on tanker seized by Indonesia belongs to Tehran Ship’s crew

DUBAI, July 21 (Reuters) – Iran’s Oil Ministry said the oil cargo from an Iranian-flagged supertanker seized by Indonesia last week does not belong to Tehran, Iranian state media reported on Friday.

A statement from the Oil Ministry, reported by the country’s state media, did not identify the owner of the cargo MT Arman 114an Iranian-flagged supertanker suspected of being involved in the illegal transhipment of crude oil, which the Indonesian Coast Guard says it seized on July 11.

“Published news linking the cargo of this ship with … Iran has no validity and this is done with the aim of creating a negative atmosphere against our country,” the oil ministry statement said, without elaborating.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen after Iran attempted to seize the Richmond Voyager tanker, managed by US oil giant Chevron, in international Gulf waters in early July.

On Thursday, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Navy commander said Iran would retaliate against any oil company that unloads Iranian oil from another impounded tanker currently docked off the Port of Houston.

Iran’s foreign ministry also criticized the United States for tabled a proposal at the UN Maritime Organization Council to withdraw Tehran’s bid to host a maritime event in October.

“America’s move … proves that the political abuses of the technical and specialized bodies of the United Nations know no bounds for this country,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said in a statement distributed by state media.

US State Department spokesman Matt Miller told reporters in a news conference Thursday that Iran has no right to host official international meetings related to maritime affairs because it has shown its disregard for international maritime rules, standards and security.

The US Navy said in July it had intervened to prevent Iran from seizing two commercial tankers, including the Richmond Voyager, in the Gulf of Oman. This is the latest in a series of attacks on ships in the region since 2019.

Meanwhile, data from the public Equasis website and data analysis company MarineTraffic showed that one of Arman 114’s previous names was Grace 1.

The Grace 1 was seized by British Royal Marine commandos in July 2019 on suspicion of attempting to ship oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions. It was released the following month after a diplomatic standoff with the West.

(Newsroom reporting in Dubai, additional reporting by Jonathan Saul in London; Editing by Jan Harvey and Jane Merriman)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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