A U.S. tanker long suspected of carrying sanctioned Iranian crude offloaded its cargo off Texas on Sunday, tracking data showed, even as Tehran threatened to target shipping in the Persian Gulf.

The Marshall Islands-flagged Suez Rajan began a hours-long ship-to-ship transfer of oil to another tanker, the Mr Euphrates, southeast of Houston, according to ship-tracking data analyzed by The Associated Press. Near Galveston, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) away.

The fate of the cargo on the Suez Rajan has been caught up in wider tensions between the US and the Islamic Republic, although Tehran and Washington are trying to Deal to freeze Iranian assets in South Korea worth billions in exchange for release of five Iranian-Americans held in Tehran. Iran has been trying to evade sanctions by continuing to sell oil overseas while the U.S. and its allies have seized oil since the collapse of the 2019 nuclear deal that allowed trade.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Corps has warned that those involved in unloading the Suez Rajan’s cargo “should be prepared for counterattacks”.In recent weeks, the U.S. Navy has steadily increased its presence in the Middle East, sending USS Bataan carrying troops and aircraft Passed through the Strait of Hormuz in recent days and considering Place armed men on merchant ships crossing strait Stop Iran from seizing more ships.

U.S. officials and the owner of Los Angeles-based private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management (Suez Rajan) did not respond to requests for comment.

The Suez Rajan saga began in February 2022 when United Iran anti-nuclear group says it suspects the tanker was carrying oil from Iran’s Karg Islandits main oil distribution terminal in the Persian Gulf.

The ship had been anchored in the South China Sea off the northeast coast of Singapore for months before suddenly sailing into the Gulf of Mexico without explanation. Analysts believe the ship’s cargo may have been seized by U.S. officials, although there were still no public court documents involving the Suez Rajan earlier Sunday.

at the same time, Iran seizes two oil tankers near Strait of HormuzThese included a ship carrying cargo for U.S. oil giant Chevron. In July, the top commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ naval forces threatened further action against anyone who unloaded the Suez Rajan, with state media linking the latest seizure to the cargo’s fate.

“We hereby state that we will hold accountable any oil company that tries to offload our crude oil from the ship, and we will also hold the United States accountable,” Major General Alireza Donsiri said at the time. “The era of hit and run is over and if they attack they should be prepared to be hit back.”

The Iranian mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment on the unloading of the Suez Rajan. The state-run Islamic News Agency acknowledged the AP report but did not elaborate.Western-backed Persian Gulf naval groups have also sounded warnings in recent days Risk of seizure of Iranian ships around Strait of Hormuz rises.

Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers has given it back the ability to openly sell oil on international markets. But in 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement and reimposed U.S. sanctions. That knocks the door on Iran’s lucrative crude oil trade, the main engine of its economy and government. It has also embarked on a cat-and-mouse hunt for Iranian oil cargoes and since 2019 has launched a series of escalating attacks attributed to Iran.

The delayed discharge of the Suez Rajan cargo has also become a political issue for the Biden administration, as the ship has been moored in the Gulf of Mexico for months, possibly because of company concerns about threats from Iran.

In a letter Wednesday, a group of U.S. Democratic and Republican senators asked the White House for an update on the ship’s cargo, estimated to be worth about $56 million. They said the money would likely go to the National Fund for Victims of Terrorism Sponsorship, which seeks to compensate those affected by the Sept. 11 attacks, the 1979 Iran hostage crisis and other armed attacks.

“For the sake of these American families, we have a duty to enforce our sanctions,” the letter read.

“No foreign adversary should question the strength of the United States,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, one of the letter’s co-signers, said in a statement on Sunday.

“To make sure this doesn’t happen again, the Biden administration must enforce our existing sanctions, stop green-lighting (Guard Force) terrorism and hostage ‘diplomacy,’ and end the response to a country that chants ‘Death to America’,” she said. appeasement gesture of the country.”

The U.S. Treasury Department said revenue from Iranian oil smuggling supported the Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guards’ expeditionary force operating in the Middle East.

Claire Jungman, the chief of staff of the Iran Nuclear Joint Organization, applauded the diversion for how it finally happened.

“By depriving the (Guard) of critical resources, we are fighting terrorism not just against American citizens, but against our allies and partners around the world,” Jungman told the Associated Press.

On Sunday, Iranian state media released a video from Thursday showing the USS Bataan being followed by small guard speedboats as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz. The Strait of Hormuz is the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20 percent of the world’s oil passes. Part of it appears to have been taken from a drone over Bataan, while another part claims the Guards radioed Bataan and threatened to shoot a U.S. helicopter if it entered Iranian airspace. “Fire”.

commander. Rick Chernitzer, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, acknowledged to The Associated Press that the Bataan had passed through the strait in recent days. An earlier photo released by the U.S. Navy showed F-35 fighter jets providing cover for Bataan and the accompanying landing ship USS Carter Hall.

“The U.S. Navy will continue to fly and sail as far as international law allows,” Chernitzer said.


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