Why did Iran seize a US-bound oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman?

Iran and the United States have again found themselves on opposite sides as they provided contradictory accounts of events that led to Tehran’s seizure of an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman.

Iran’s state television on Friday showed footage of the country’s navy commandos boarding the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Advantage Sweet in a helicopter operation a day earlier.The Turkish-operated, Chinese-owned tanker entered the Gulf of Oman after moving through the Strait of Hormuz and was reportedly bound for Houston, Texas carrying Kuwaiti crude oil for US energy firm Chevron Corp.

Iran said the tanker collided with an unidentified Iranian vessel hours before its seizure, leading to several crew members falling overboard and going missing and others getting injured. The tanker then fled the scene and ignored radio calls for eight hours before its seizure based on a court order, the Iranian army said.

“We repeatedly called on the vessel to stop so we can conduct a more comprehensive investigation, but there was no cooperation,” Mostafa Tajodini, deputy for operations at the Iranian navy, told state media.

The vessel’s manager, a Turkish firm called Advantage Tankers, said similar experiences have shown that crew members – all 24 of whom are Indian – are in no danger.
The Middle East-based US Navy 5th Fleet had said Iran’s actions constituted a violation of international law and called on Tehran to immediately release the tanker.

“Iran’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with navigational rights in regional waters are a threat to maritime security and the global economy,” it said, adding this was at least the fifth commercial vessel taken by Iran in the past two years.Tit-for-tat move
On Friday, the Reuters news agency reported the seizure of the vessel came as a response to the confiscation of an oil tanker by the US in an effort to enforce its unilateral sanctions on Tehran.

The report said the Iran-linked tanker was the Marshall Islands-flagged Suez Rajan that had a Greece-based manager and was last reported to be positioned near Southern Africa before being seized several days prior to the taking of the Advantage Sweet vessel by Iran.

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