On November 4, Iran’s state-TV claimed that the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) navy blocked the United States from “stealing” an Iranian oil tanker in the Sea of Oman. “With the timely and authoritative action of the Guards’ naval forces, the U.S. terrorist navy’s operation to steal Iranian oil in the Sea of Oman failed,” read the statement of the IRGC Special Forces, as reported by Iran’s state-TV.
فوری | شکست تلاش آمریکا در دزدی دریایی نفت ایران
— خبرگزاری تسنیم 🇮🇷 (@Tasnimnews_Fa) November 3, 2021
This claim was rejected by the Pentagon, calling it a ‘bogus claim’. “I’ve seen the Iranian claims. They are absolutely totally false and untrue. It’s a bogus claim,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
The regime, in fact, had seized a Vietnamese-flagged oil tanker in October. Two U.S. Navy ships, backed by air support, had monitored the situation but did not try to prevent the vessel. The vessel is identified as ‘Southys’.
According to the Tanker Trackers website, Southys “attempted to make a delivery of 700,000 barrels of Iranian crude oil to China but was rejected. SOTHYS then sailed all the way back to Iran and dropped anchor in Bandar Abbas. Yesterday she was relocated to the Strait of Hormuz.”
SOTHYS attempted to make a delivery of 700,000 barrels of Iranian crude oil to China but was rejected. SOTHYS then sailed all the way back to Iran and dropped anchor in Bandar Abbas. Yesterday she was relocated to the Strait of Hormuz. pic.twitter.com/Y9JRYWJEbq
— TankerTrackers.com, Inc. (@TankerTrackers) November 3, 2021
Why would the IRGC forces attack, board, and seize a vessel taking their own oil for export clandestinely towards Asia? The show of “teaching a lesson to the global arrogance” comes ahead of the new rounds of nuclear talks in Vienna. Tehran intends to continue its extortion campaign, either by violating its commitments under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal or by clear acts of belligerence and terrorism.
Since the regime has not paid the price of its regional adventurism and nuclear extortion, it continues its malign activities. Why does Tehran take the risk of creating an international fiasco which could lead to a standoff rather than attempting to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)?
The state-run Aftab-e Yazd daily acknowledged on November 2 that if Tehran “returns to the JCPOA, the U.S. and other signatories would not be limited to the JCPOA and its terms. If Tehran leaves the JCPOA, it has to start negotiations with the countries that want to accelerate negotiations and extend the nuclear negotiations to other issues.”
“If Iran accepts this,” Aftab-e Yazd adds, “and even it wants to buy some time, it will result in a standoff. Thus, we are in a situation where a ‘great decision’ becomes inevitable.”
It should be noted that Iran’s state-TV broadcasted the entire attack on the oil tanker to somehow boost the morale of the regime’s forces.
Iran is going through its worst time in the last century. The regime’s economy is in shambles. The Covid-19 takes thousands daily due to the regime’s inaction, Tehran is facing increasing regional and international isolation, and most importantly, the regime faces a restive society. There are dozens of protests every day across the country. The situation has reached a point that state media warn officials about another uprising.
“When people are unable to meet their basic needs, they join the impoverished social classes. When the impoverished classes grow too large, millions will have nothing to lose and resort to violence. This would certainly endanger the state’s security,” Aftab-e Yazd daily warned on October 31.
The western powers should not concede to the regime’s extortion campaign. Such provocative actions, which destabilized international peace and security, should not be left unanswered. The regime should be held accountable, and this is the only way to end its malign activities.