A Vietnamese oil tanker seized by Iran was reportedly released in open water on Wednesday. The tanker, blocked by Tehran off the Sea of Oman, was carrying confiscated Iranian oil to an unknown destination.
The Sothys left a position off Iran’s Bandar Abbas port and had reached international waters in the nearby Gulf of Oman early Wednesday, data analyzed by The Associated Press from MarineTraffic.com showed.
The vessel appeared anchored there, but there was no information about its crew.
Shahrokh Nazemi, a spokesperson for Iran’s mission to the United Nations (UN), told the AP on Wednesday that “Sothys left Iranian waters last night after transferring the oil.”
Vietnamese officials could not be reached for comment, though its officials earlier acknowledged trying to obtain more information about the seizure from Iran.
Last Wednesday, Tehran announced naval forces of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) have thwarted an attempt by the United States Navy to confiscate a tanker carrying Iranian crude in the Sea of Oman.
The United States stopped the Iranian vessel and transferred its oil cargo to another tanker and was trying to take the vessel away when the IRGC Navy intervened.
The IRGC forces used a helicopter to board the tanker and led it towards Iranian territorial waters.
The naval forces of the United States used several helicopters and a frigate to chase the Iranian tanker but the IRGC blocked their way.
The American naval forces tried once again to block the path of the Iranian ship with several more vessels but failed.
Tehran has also released footage showing IRGC navy force blocking US attempts to confiscate Iranian oil in the Sea of Oman.
American officials have claimed Iranian forces had actually seized a Vietnamese-flagged oil tanker, MV Southys, and US naval forces were just monitoring the situation.
But, a Spokesman for the IRGC has rejected remarks by American defense officials claiming US forces involved in the recent tanker incident in the Sea of Oman were present at the scene only to monitor the situation.
The spokesperson has stated American forces had a mission to protect the ship.
Brigadier General Ramazan Sharif stated on Thursday that US forces had a mission to protect MV Sothys, a Vietnamese-flagged ship which was boarded by IRGC forces after it became known the tanker was stealing a large Iranian oil cargo.
“They had come to provide support to the bandits of the Iranian oil and to escort them,” Sharif noted.