Iran denies oil on tanker seized by Indonesia belongs to Tehran

An oil ministry statement, reported by the country’s state media, did not identify the owner of the cargo of MT Arman 114, an Iranian-flagged supertanker suspected of involvement in the illegal transshipment of crude oil, which Indonesia’s coast guard said on July 11 it had seized.

“Published news linking the cargo of this ship to … Iran have 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 been rising after Iran tried to seize the Richmond Voyager tanker, which was managed by U.S. oil major Chevron, earlier in July in international Gulf waters.

On Thursday, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ navy said Iran would retaliate against any oil company unloading Iranian oil from another seized tanker, currently anchored outside the port of Houston.

Iran’s foreign ministry also criticised the United States for leading a proposal at the U.N. shipping agency’s council to rescind Tehran’s bid to host a maritime event in October.

“America’s move … proves that the political abuse of the United Nations’ technical and specialised bodies has no limit for this country,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said in a statement carried by state media.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matt Miller told reporters in a news briefing on Thursday that Iran had no business hosting official international gatherings related to maritime affairs, because it had demonstrated its contempt for international maritime rules, standards, and safety.

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

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Meanwhile, data from the public Equasis site and data analytics 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 trying to take oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. It was released the following month after a diplomatic standoff with the West.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom, additional reporting by Jonathan Saul in London; Editing by Jan Harvey and Jane Merriman – Reuters

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