Iran seized a Panamanian-flagged tanker on Wednesday (May 3) as it transited the Strait of Hormuz, the US Navy said, recalling that this is the second such incident in a week.
The Niovi ship, which was heading for the port of Foujeyra, in the United Arab Emirates, was surrounded by a dozen boats from the maritime corps of the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic, who "forced it to turn around and head for Iranian territorial waters,” said the US 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain.
Tehran's seizure of Advantage Sweet and then Niovi is the latest episode in a series of hijackings and attacks on ships passing through the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Prior to that, in May 2022, the Revolutionary Guards had seized two Greek-flagged tankers in the Gulf, the Prudent-Warrior and the Delta-Poseidon, before releasing them six months later.
In April 2022, Greece seized a tanker flying the Russian flag and carrying Iranian crude near Athens. Athens had justified the seizure by the European sanctions introduced against Moscow following the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The Islamic Republic had reacted strongly, describing this seizure as an "international theft". Athens had indicated that it had acted at the request of the Americans. After that, Revolutionary Guards landed the two Greek tankers in the Arabian Gulf and drove them to the port of Bandar-e Abbas in southern Iran. In November 2022, after six months of negotiations, the two countries simultaneously released the boarded tankers.
Washington also accuses Tehran of targeting and damaging Norwegian and Japanese tankers in 2019. The G7 countries and Israel also blame Iran for the deadly attack on a tanker belonging to an Israeli billionaire, off the coast of Oman in 2021, during which two European crew members died.
Niovi's arrest comes as Iran and the United States clash over the survival of the 2015 nuclear deal, which has lapsed since Washington's unilateral withdrawal under the former president. , Republican Donald Trump, in 2018. Resumed after his departure from the White House, negotiations to save the agreement are now at a standstill. Tehran, for its part, continues to develop its nuclear program.