The Iranian navy has seized the oil tanker St Nikolas, a Marshall Islands-flagged vessel, in the Gulf of Oman. According to Iranian state media, this action was taken in response to the United States’ previous confiscation of over one million barrels of Iranian crude oil from the same tanker last year. This incident is expected to further strain the already tense relations between the two countries.
The St Nikolas, originally known as the Suez Rajan, was carrying Iraqi crude oil destined for Turkey when it was intercepted. The tanker was approximately 50 nautical miles east of Oman’s coast when it was boarded by individuals wearing military-style uniforms and masks. The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) authority reported that it had received a report of the vessel being boarded and was unable to make further contact.
The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Brad Cooper condemned Iran’s actions, stating that they threaten maritime security and stability and are contrary to international law. The U.S. has demanded the immediate release of the ship and its crew.