(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
On 14 August, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) confiscated an unidentified oil tanker carrying over 22,000 liters of smuggled fuel as it was exiting the Persian Gulf.
According to reports, the head of Hormozgan Province’s Justice Department, Mojtaba Qahremani, said a judicial investigation on the seized tanker is underway, stressing that Iran’s campaign against fuel piracy will continue in order to protect the assets and interests of the Islamic Republic.
He further added that the culprits will be heavily fined and face prison sentences.
Back in June, the IRGC dismantled a large network smuggling fuel to neighboring countries, arresting all members and busting “one of the largest organized networks” connected to the illegal transport of Iranian fuel.
On 14 April, the IRGC seized a foreign-flagged vessel carrying 250,000 liters of smuggled fuel into the Persian Gulf and arrested its seven crew members. It was one of three tankers, each carrying a similar amount of smuggled fuel, captured that month.
According to Iran’s state news agency IRNA, Gholam Hossein Hosseini, a public relations official of the IRGC, said: “The fight against smuggling in the Persian Gulf, particularly fuel, is one of the important missions of the navy.”
Sunday’s incident was the latest in a series of similar actions by Iran over the past few years. Brutal economic sanctions imposed by the US in 2018, and the fact that Iran holds vast oil and gas reserves, has given rise to the existence and growth of fuel smuggling activities.
The Fars News Agency has estimated that between 7 and 10 million liters of crude oil and diesel were smuggled out of Iran in 2021.
The main destinations for the smuggled Iranian fuel are neighboring Pakistan and Turkey, countries with far smaller reserves.
In November 2021, the IRGC launched a special operation in waters near the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf of Oman, seizing a vessel loaded with stolen fuel from US forces. Washington has denied the event.