An oil tanker has been seized in the Persian Gulf and the United States and its allies blamed Iran of seizing it as Iran put the blame to the U.S.
Now the U.S. demanded Iran release the vessel as the State Department insisted that Iran has to free the ship along with the crew and stop with the harassing vessels in the area.
A U.S. commander in the region said that the United States would work aggressively to ensure free passage of vessels through the vital waterway.
A State Department spokesperson stated: “The United States strongly condemns the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with safe passage in and around the Strait of Hormuz.Iran must cease this illicit activity and release the reportedly seized crew and vessel immediately.’’
Oil prices jumped after news of the seizure amid rising tensions between Tehran and the West over the safety of shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital gateway for energy exports. However, they later fell on weakness in U.S. equities markets and an expectation that crude output would rise in the Gulf of Mexico following last week’s hurricane in the region, according to Reuters.
An Iranian state television stated that was the same vessel that Iran towed to safety, but the Revolutionary Guards did not confirm the statement, saying that the impounded ship was smuggling one million litres of fuel in the area of Larak Island in the Gulf and had 12 foreign crew.
Reuters also reported that shipping companies were hiring unarmed security guards for voyages through the Gulf.