The U.S. government has seized four Iranian tankers full of fuel and is transporting the vessels to the port of Houston in the Gulf of Mexico.
A U.S. official confirmed the seizure of the four vessels, dubbed the Bering, Bella, Luna and Pandi, in a statement to the Wall Street Journal, and explained further that the craft were seized without the use of military force. It wasn't immediately clear where the seizures occurred or which U.S. agencies were involved, reported The Hill.
“Iran's use of its military forces to conduct an armed boarding of a commercial vessel in international waters constitutes a blatant violation of international law that undermines freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce,” responded the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) in a statement retweeted by U.S. Central Command on Thursday. “We call on Iran to articulate to the international community the legal basis for its actions. This type of reckless, aggressive behavior by Iran destabilizes the region and threatens the rules based international order.”
Later in July, when Iran again sent tankers for a second round of deliveries, which the two countries earlier announced would be 'routine', US federal prosecutors filed a lawsuit for the seizure of over 1.1 million barrels of gasoline on the four vessels. A judge issued a warrant for the seizure, but it remained unclear whether this could or would be carried out if the tankers never enter US territorial waters, reported Zero Hedge.
"One official said the vessels had been taken over without the use of military force but didn’t provide any details."
"Senior administration officials are expected to meet the tankers in the coming days at an event scheduled to mark the docking, the officials said," wrote The Wall Street Journal.
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