World

Satellite image shows Iranian oil tanker seized off Bandar Abbas


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Two oil tankers recently seized by Iran are anchored off the coast of one of the country’s key port cities in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, according to satellite images analyzed by the Associated Press today. Sunday.

Photos from Planet Labs PBC show Advantage Sweet and Niovi just south of Bandar Abbas near a naval base in the port city in Iran’s Hormozgan province on Saturday. Their seizure is only the latest seizure of ships by Iran amid tensions with the West over its rapidly growing nuclear program, although it appears the two ships may have been damaged. arrested for different reasons.

Iran seized the Marshall Islands-flagged Advantage Sweet, manned by 23 Indians and one Russian, on 27 April as it transited the Gulf of Oman. Tehran claimed the ship crashed into another ship, although Advantage Sweet’s tracking data showed no erratic behavior during its voyage. In the past, Iran has issued statements about the seizure of ships to cover the use of these vessels as pawns in negotiations with the West.

Advantage Sweet carries Kuwaiti crude oil to US energy company Chevron Corp. in San Ramon, California, at the time of his arrest. And its seizure comes as another tanker believed to be carrying Iranian crude disappeared from an anchorage off Singapore a year after it was identified as attempting to evade US sanctions. .

The Financial Times, as well as maritime intelligence firm Ambrey, both reported that the ship, named Suez Rajan, had been seized by order of US authorities. US officials and those associated with Suez Rajan did not respond to questions about the tanker’s disappearance while en route west.

Satellite images show that the second ship, the Niovi, a Panama-flagged tanker, was seized by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday as it left a dry dock in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, heading to Fujairah on the east coast of the UAE. While not carrying any cargo, data from WILL&P Global Market Intelligence seen by the AP shows that Niovi in ​​July 2020 received oil from a ship then known as the Oman Pride.

In August 2021, the US Treasury Department sanctioned Oman Pride and others associated with the ship because it was “involved in an international oil smuggling network” supporting the Quds Force, the unit Expeditionary Revolutionary Guard Corps operations throughout the Middle East.

Separately, purported emails published online by Wikiran, a website that solicits leaked documents from the Islamic Republic, show that goods shipped by Niovi have been sold to companies. company in China without permission.

Claire Jungman, the group’s chief of staff, said United Against a Nuclear Iran, which has been tracking Tehran’s sanctioned crude oil shipments, “highly suspects the seizure of the Niovi is related to the dispute.” over a shipment of Iranian oil.” Iran said it seized Niovi by order of an unspecified court in Tehran.

Niovi managers did not respond to repeated phone calls to request comment. The Greek coast guard said Niovi was staffed by Greek, Filipino and Sri Lankan sailors.

Meanwhile on Sunday, an internet account describing itself as a group of hackers claimed responsibility for taking down websites linked to Iran’s Foreign Ministry. The claims of the GhyamSarnegouni account, whose name in Farsi means “Rise to overthrow”, were not immediately acknowledged by Iranian media.

However, the State Department website remained down for hours because of so-called “scheduled maintenance and upgrades”.

The cached versions of the websites of Iranian diplomatic missions in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Munich, Germany and Seoul, South Korea, appear to have been interfaced with A message in Farsi read: “Damn Khamenei, Hail Rajavi”. Khamenei refers to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, while Rajavi is likely referring to Massoud Rajavi, the long-lost leader of the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or his wife as Maryam, who is now the public face of the group.

“There is a great revolution in Iran, the uprising will continue until the destruction of the palace of oppression,” the message read.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani denied that the ministry’s websites had been hacked, the ministry’s telegram channel reported on Sunday.

Kanaani said only the pages for news and press releases on the ministry’s website were the target of the cyber attacks, but authorities have fixed the problem and are now accessible.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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