Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, seized a vessel on Monday in the Gulf for allegedly smuggling 250,000 litres of diesel fuel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Iran's semi-official Students News Agency (ISNA) reported that the vessel was detained near Iran’s Greater Tunb in the Persian Gulf. “The crew have been handed over to legal authorities in the southern Hormozgan province,” said ISNA. While the crew has been handed over to competent authorities, the identities and nationalities of the crew were not divulged by ISNA.
Iran has been struggling with rampant fuel smuggling from its land to neighbouring countries due to its cheap fuel prices resulting from heavy subsidies. The fall of its national currency, the rial, has also added to the woes of the country. To fight against prevalent smuggling, Iran has stepped up its vigilance in recent times. Earlier this month, Iran’s coast guards detained 12 Filpino members after they seized a vessel for smuggling fuel in the Gulf.
The seizure comes after the drone attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on the world’s largest oil processing facility and a major oil field in Saudi Arabia. The United States had blamed Iran for involvement in the drone attack which they promptly denied. In April, the US had designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, an entity of the Iranian government, as a foreign terrorist organisation. "This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft," President Donald Trump had said.
In July, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps had captured a British Vessel in the Strait of Hormuz two weeks after an Iranian tanker was seized by the United Kingdom just off the coast of Gibraltar. Senior officials in Tehran told reporters that Iran’s seizure of a British oil tanker was a response to Britain’s role in impounding an Iranian supertanker first. However, the UK had accused Iranian tanker of taking oil to Syria in violation of European Union (EU) sanctions.