WASHINGTON / DUBAI, Nov. 3 (Reuters) – The Pentagon on Wednesday denied allegations by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that they had foiled an attempt by the United States to detain an Islamic Republic oil tanker in the Sea of ââOman.
“I’ve seen the Iranian claims that they are absolutely false and untrue … it is a false claim,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
“The only seizure was by Iran,” said Kirby.
American officials said the Iranian armed forces seized a Vietnamese flag oil tanker last month and the US naval forces were only monitoring the situation.
“With the timely and decisive action of the naval forces of the guard, the operation of the US terrorist navy to steal Iranian oil in the Oman Sea failed,” said the Iranian elite guard in a statement published by the Iranian state media on Wednesday.
“The tanker with the Iranian oil docked in the port of Bandar Abbas on October 25th.”
While the Iranian media identified the seized tanker as “SOTHYS” – the name tanker tracking websites give to a ship sailing under the Vietnamese flag – state television broadcast footage showing a red tanker surrounded by about 10 speedboats . It also contained a recording of what the television said was the meeting between Iranian and US forces.
Iran has repeatedly warned the United States of its military activities in the Gulf, stating that the Guard Naval Forces have been intensifying patrols to also secure the passage of Iranian ships and combat fuel smuggling.
Press TV released details of the reported incident that the guards reacted “quickly” when the Iranian oil tanker was arrested in the Oman Sea.
“Members of the Naval Guard carried out a heliborne operation on the deck of the arrested tanker, gained control of the ship and directed it back into Iranian territorial waters,” reported Press TV.
Separately, American officials told Reuters that several drones believed to be Iranian had come close to the US Navy’s amphibious assault ship Essex in the Strait of Hormuz in the past 24 hours.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen amid stalled talks to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, in which Tehran curtailed its uranium enrichment program in return for lifting global sanctions.
Iran’s highest security official Ali Shamkhani said on Wednesday that talks would fail if US President Joe Biden cannot guarantee that Washington will no longer break the nuclear deal in the future.
The deal has eroded since 2018 when then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the treaty and re-imposed US sanctions on Iran, leading Tehran to exceed various uranium enrichment limits set in the pact. Continue reading
Shamkhani tweeted: âThe US president is unwilling to give guarantees without authority.
Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli, Dubai Newsroom and Idrees Ali in Washington Writing by Parisa Hafezi Editing by William Maclean and Jonathan Oatis
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