Court Records Confirm US Theft of One Million Barrels of Iranian Crude

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Court records have publicly confirmed that the US government has seized almost one million barrels of Iranian crude oil from the M/T Suez Rajan tanker.

This marks another instance where Washington has taken Iranian crude, claiming the vessels violated US sanctions.

According to newly disclosed court records, US officials stated they had seized the M/T Suez Rajan earlier this year, alleging it was smuggling Iranian oil to China.

This seizure of the M/T Suez Rajan occurred earlier this year. Iran later seized a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker in the Sea of Oman, carrying Kuwaiti oil for the second-largest US energy company.

The oil tanker, named Advantage Sweet, was also involved in a maritime accident with an Iranian fishing craft, resulting in injuries and missing crew members. After the collision, the oil tanker attempted to flee the scene, a serious breach of international laws requiring proper medical treatment and medicine for injured seamen.

Since its initial seizure this spring, the M/T Suez Rajan has remained off the Texas coast. Iran had warned that Washington would be held responsible if the cargo was offloaded, and no US company agreed to do so due to concerns about reprisals from Tehran.

Ultimately, the Greek company managing the Rajan, Empire Navigation, dispatched another vessel to complete the offloading process.

All of the fuel on the M/T Suez Rajan, seized by the US in April near southern Africa and anchored off the Texas coast in May, led to the Greek owner being charged with sanctions evasion.

The US Justice Department remained silent about the operation until all the oil had been offloaded from the vessel.

US authorities threatened to prosecute Empire Navigation, the Greek operator of the tanker, for transporting sanctioned Iranian crude oil.

According to AP, Empire Navigation has now pleaded guilty to smuggling sanctioned Iranian crude oil and is facing a $2.4 million fine.

In July, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri warned that any oil company unloading hundreds of thousands of barrels of seized Iranian oil sitting in a Greek tanker off the Texas coast would be held accountable.

Adm. Tangsiri’s remarks came on the anniversary of Iran’s confiscation of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz in 2019 after Britain had seized an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar.

The US and its allies have been seizing Iranian oil cargoes since withdrawing from the JCPOA nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions on Iran in 2018.

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