Iran summons Swiss diplomat in wake of US crude oil seizure


Iran has called upon a Swiss diplomat to arbitrate over the reported US seizure of Iranian crude oil from the Suez Rajan, a vessel that has been anchored off the coast of Texas for several months.

According to Iran’s Ministry Spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, Tehran had summoned the chargé d’affaires of the Swiss Embassy in Iran to strongly condemn the US seizure of the oil.

“The subject of the seizure of an Iranian oil consignment by the US… is a completely unproductive action,” Kanaani said.

He further pointed out the seemingly dichotomous pattern ridden within US dealings with Iran, highlighting how the US expressed interest in working towards a renewed nuclear deal, while conversely imposing new sanctions and seizing oil.

Tracking data revealed that the Marshall Islands-flagged Suez Rajan oil-tanker suspected of transporting sanctioned Iranian crude oil started to offload its cargo near Texas. This occurred despite Tehran’s threat of targeting shipping in the Persian Gulf over the load, reported the Washington Post.  

Moreover, the vessel reportedly transferred the load to another tanker, the MR Euphrates, located near Southeast of Houston on 20 August.

ABC News more recently reported that on 28 August, the MR Euphrates moored at a key oil terminal in Houston which is suspected to have discharged the crude it attained from the Suez Rajan.

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The cargo aboard the vessel has become warped in the broader tension between the US and Iran. The situation with the Suez Rajan unfolds as the two nations are negotiating the release of five Iranian-Americans detained in Tehran in exchange for billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets held in South Korea.

The Suez Rajan controversy sparked in early 2022 when the non-profit organisation, United Against Nuclear Iran, stated that it suspected the vessel transported oil from Iran’s primary oil distribution terminal in the Persian Gulf, the Khargh Island.

Before inexplicably setting off for the Gulf of Mexico, the Suez Rajan was docked in the South China Sea off the northeast coast of Singapore for several months, reported the Washington Post.

Some analysts speculate that US officials may have confiscated the vessel’s cargo, but as of 20 August, there are no public court documents available regarding the Suez Rajan.

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Since 2019, the US and its allies have engaged in efforts to seize cargoes from Iran after the nuclear deal permitting the trade broke down, compelling Tehran to bypass sanctions and continue its oil exportation, the Washington Post reported.  

The parliamentary Revolutionary Guard of Iran has since issued a statement, warning those unloading the cargo on the Suez Rajan “should expect to be struck back.”

Back in May, Iran seized two tankers near the Strait of Hormuz. This was followed by a statement made in July by the top Commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s naval arm, Alireza Tangsiri, where he had warned further action against anyone offloading the Suez Rajan.

“We hereby declare that we would hold any oil company that sought to unload our crude from the vessel responsible and we also hold America responsible,” Tangsiri stated.

“The era of hit and run is over, and if they hit, they should expect to be struck back.”

All the while, the US has increased its naval presence in the Middle East having deployed the troop and aircraft carrier, USS Bataan, at the Strait of Hormuz. In addition, the US has considered deploying armed personnel on commercial vessels traversing through the strait in efforts to prevent Iran from seizing more ships.   

READ: Russia’s attack on Ukrainian port sparks rise in global food prices

Nevertheless, the situation revolving around the Suez Rajan and the US and Iran is not the only geopolitical concern at the present moment.

In late July of this year, Russia withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal, an agreement that ensured he secure transportation of exports of Ukrainian grains. Russia has since fired warning shots on a number of occasions having stated its intention to regard any ships nearing Ukrainian ports as potential military vessels.

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