On Wednesday, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard seized a Panamanian-flagged oil tanker in the crucial Strait of Hormuz, marking Tehran’s second such capture in under a week.
The move has escalated tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and raised concerns about the country’s potential to threaten maritime traffic in the strait, through which roughly a fifth of global crude oil passes.
The seizure of the oil tanker Niovi coincides with reports of the disappearance of a crude oil tanker in southeast Asia, suspected to be carrying Iranian crude oil, amid allegations that it may have been seized by the United States.
The U.S. Navy has released surveillance footage captured by an aerial drone showing around a dozen Guard vessels encircling the tanker on Wednesday morning, the Associated Press has reported.
Although the drone was conducting a routine patrol in the region and witnessed the seizure, the Navy did not receive any distress signal from the Niovi itself, according to 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins.
The Navy reported that the Guard ships “compelled the oil tanker to change direction and sail towards Iranian territorial waters near Bandar Abbas, Iran.”
The 5th Fleet issued a statement condemning Iran’s actions as “disruptive to regional security and stability” and in violation of international law.
The statement also criticized Iran’s repeated interference with vessels and navigational rights in regional waters, citing them as “unwarranted, irresponsible and a present threat to maritime security and the global economy.”
Written by staff