August 5, 2019 - 11:00 AMT
Iran reportedly seizes Iraqi tanker in Gulf for smuggling fuel

Iran has seized another foreign tanker in the Gulf, state media reports claim, according to the BBC.

Iranian forces seized the Iraqi ship for "smuggling fuel for some Arab countries" and detained seven sailors, according to the reports.

Iraq's oil ministry has said it has no connection to the seized vessel and that it is working to gather information about it.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions after the US tightened sanctions on Iran's oil sector.

The sanctions were reimposed after Washington's unilateral withdrawal from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

If confirmed, the Iraqi tanker would be the third foreign vessel to have been seized by Iran in recent weeks.

On 13 July, the Iranian coastguard detained the Panama-flagged MT Riah. The Revolutionary Guards' Sepah News site said at the time that the ship was seized during naval patrols aimed at "discovering and confronting organised smuggling".

Fars news agency reported that the operation to seize the ship was carried out last Wednesday near the Gulf island of Farsi.

The vessel was carrying about 700,000 litres (154,000 gallons) of fuel at the time, according to a Revolutionary Guard Corps commander quoted in state media.

The tanker was reported to have been taken to Bushehr Port in south-western Iran and its fuel handed over to the authorities.

Iranian reports say the tanker was Iraqi but the nationalities of the seven crew have not been disclosed.