Iran claims its guards seized ship smuggling fuel through Persian Gulf
Incident is seemingly the latest in a series of attempts to spirit heavily subsidized fuel out of the country for sale on the black market
By AFP Today, 5:22 pm
Illustrative: An Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboat moves in the Persian Gulf while an oil tanker is seen in background, July 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized a foreign vessel smuggling fuel in the Gulf and arrested eight of its crew members on Sunday, Iranian state media claimed, in the third such incident reported this month.
The Guards “seized a foreign vessel carrying 200,000 liters (around 53,000 gallons) of smuggled fuel in the north of the Persian Gulf and directed it to Bushehr [port],” state broadcaster IRIB said, quoting a statement by the Guards’ navy.
“Eight crew members of the vessel, who are foreigners, were arrested and taken to Bushehr port, where they will be handed over to the judicial authorities to complete the investigation and legal processes,” it added.
The crewmen’s nationalities were not specified.
The IRGC is the ideological arm of Iran’s military, with direct loyalty not to the country of Iran, but to the Islamic Revolution that brought to power the current regime.
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Iran has seen a major surge in efforts to smuggle heavily subsidized fuel out of the country and to neighboring states for sale on the black market.
Sunday’s incident is the latest in a series of seizures of fuel-smuggling vessels in sea lanes of the Gulf, where a large portion of the world’s oil is produced and shipped.
On April 15, Iranian media reported the seizure of a boat carrying 250,000 liters of smuggled fuel and the arrest of its seven-member crew.
Another boat with 11 crew onboard was reportedly seized on April 9.
“The fight against smuggling, especially fuel smuggling, is one of the main priorities of the IRGC Navy in order to support national production and the dynamism of the country’s economy,” the IRGC statement said.