The United States is seeking to seize 2 million barrels of oil aboard a Liberian-flagged oil tanker on the grounds that it is carrying Iranian crude.
As reported Tuesday by U.S. portal Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, the ship, which is fully loaded and could be carrying more than 2 million barrels, according to shipping documents, is headed to the U.S., after the U.S. Justice Department issued a seizure order.
The sources, on anonymity, indicated that the seizure order was issued before new US President Joe Biden succeeded Donald Trump.
The former US president had issued the order as part of his attempt to block Iran’s energy exports and after the Greek owner of the Achilleas ship, Capital Ship Management Corp, alerted US authorities to the possibility that it had “unknowingly” taken Iranian crude, after initially believing it came from Iraq.
This is not Washington’s first attempt to seize Iranian oil, but all shipments from Iran have reached their destinations after stern warnings of retaliation by Tehran.
In 2020, Washington claimed to have intercepted vessels it said were carrying gasoline from the Islamic Republic to Venezuela, but Iranian officials flatly rejected the accusation.
Iranian Oil Minister Biyan Namdar Zangane said at the time that “neither the ships nor the cargoes belonged to Iran” and that the cargoes included Iranian FOB (Free On Board) gasoline that had already been sold to Venezuela and, in fact, the US seized a cargo that was Venezuelan-owned.
All these attempts constituted part of the policy that the Trump administration called the “maximum pressure” against the Persian country, after the former occupant of the White House unilaterally withdrew his country from the nuclear pact signed with Iran – officially named Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or JCPOA) – in May 2018.
Since then, Washington imposed several rounds of sanctions on the Persian country and intensified its economic pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic. However, according to Iranian officials, this policy of “maximum pressure” completely failed