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Iran Guards Step Up Efforts To Seize Ships Smuggling Fuel in Gulf

By Kazem Sarabi April 26, 2022

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A boat of Iran's Revolutionary Guard is seen at undisclosed coordinates in the Persian Gulf, August 22, 2019. / Reuters

In the past two weeks, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) have detained several foreign vessels for smuggling fuel in the Persian Gulf.

“Officers of the IRGC’s second naval zone seized a foreign vessel carrying 200,000 liters of smuggled fuel in the northern Persian Gulf,” Colonel Gholamhossein Hosseini, a spokesperson for the IRGC Navy, told the Fars news agency on April 24.

He added that the ship’s eight crew members have been transferred to Bushehr, a southern port city, and handed over to judicial authorities for investigation.

Hosseini further said that five boats were involved in transferring fuel to the seized ship. The boats are also under inspection.

“The fight against smuggling, especially fuel smuggling, is one of the important priorities of the IRGC Navy which is being pursued in order to support national production and the dynamism of the country’s economy,” he said.

The incident is the latest in a series of detentions of fuel-smuggling vessels in sea lanes of the Gulf, where a large portion of the world’s oil is produced and shipped.

The Guards announced on April 23 that they had seized 150,000 liters of smuggled fuel in the south-eastern Iranian port of Chabahar in the waters under their jurisdiction. The report added that the large consignments were reportedly carried in three separate vessels, with both Iranian and non-Iranian nationals involved.

In addition, the IRGC stopped a ship carrying 250,000 liters of smuggled fuel in the Persian Gulf on April 15. Seven crew members were arrested during the operation, according to the spokesperson for the IRGC Navy.

On April 9, a foreign tanker carrying 220,000 liters of smuggled fuel was detained in the Persian Gulf. During the inspection, 11 foreign crew members were detained. An Iranian vessel carrying 20,000 liters of smuggled diesel, which intended to provide the foreign ship with fuel, was also seized by the IRGC forces in Iran’s territorial waters.

Commander of IRGC Navy Force Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri announced on April 24 that the operational depth of the IRGC navy would be expanded “in international waters around the world.”

“Iran is currently in the best state of combat readiness in terms of human resources, intelligence, aristocracy on the situation in the region and operational defense equipment,” Tangsiri added.