In a recent development, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) naval forces have intercepted two foreign tankers involved in fuel smuggling within the Persian Gulf over the past two days, as reported by Iranian media on September 15th.
According to Iran's semi-official Mehr news outlet, the Deputy Commander of the IRGC's third marine zone disclosed that they had confiscated two foreign oil tankers transporting smuggled fuel, containing more than 1.5 million liters of fuel.
IRGC Admiral Mohammad-Sharif Shirali, as quoted by the agency, mentioned that the Panama and Tanzania-flagged tankers, named Stephen and Crown, were apprehended by the IRGC Navy. The 37 crew members from these vessels were subsequently handed over to judicial authorities to undergo legal procedures.
Shirali further noted that the seized tankers were guided to Bandar-e Mahshahr and the Arvand base before the crew members were detained, as reported by Press TV.
The IRGC naval forces have been diligently monitoring and responding to all illegal activities by foreign commercial and military vessels in the region, according to Shirali.
Notably, Iranian naval forces have reportedly confiscated over 50 million liters of smuggled fuel since the previous year, as per a report by Fars News Agency in 2023. Iran has escalated its efforts to combat fuel smuggling in the Persian Gulf, resulting in the seizure of several vessels, leading to tensions with the United States.
The harsh U.S. sanctions on Iranian energy have exacerbated fuel smuggling in the Gulf, and Washington has also been accused of illegally seizing multiple shipments of Iranian oil at sea while accusing Tehran of attempting to "hijack" foreign vessels. There have been instances where foreign tankers collided with Iranian vessels before attempting to evade capture, violating international maritime regulations.
In response to these challenges, Iran has expressed its readiness to establish a maritime security alliance with fellow member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to enhance security and stability in the region.