Iran Steals $50 Million Worth of U.S. Bound Oil From Ship Seized Last Year

On Wednesday, Iran confirmed its intention to seize the oil found aboard the Advantage Sweet, a cargo ship seized by the regime in the Persian Gulf back in April on allegations of being involved in a maritime collision.

According to Iran’s state-run PressTV, the Iranian government has confiscated oil that was on its way to Texas for processing by the American oil company Chevron. The seizure is reportedly intended to compensate Iranians who sued the U.S. government, claiming that sanctions on Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism, prevented them from accessing essential medication.

The Advantage Sweet, flying the flag of the Marshall Islands, was on its way from Kuwait, where the oil is thought to have come from, to Houston, Texas, when it was intercepted and seized by the Iranian Navy in April 2023. The cargo onboard is estimated to be valued at $50 million.

Following a turbulent month at sea in the Middle East, largely instigated by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Ansar Allah, also known as the Houthis, tensions escalated when they declared “war” on Israel in support of Hamas.

The Houthi aggression has involved attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, causing insurance and shipping rates to soar. This disruption has led to a significant impact on global commerce, with ships rerouting around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa to avoid the region. The possibility of Iranian government seizures of commercial ships adds to concerns that shipping around the Red Sea may no longer be a safe option for many companies.

“[An] unknown ship collided with an Iranian vessel last night in the Persian Gulf, causing several Iranian crew members to go missing and get injured,” Iranian state media reported in April, according to the U.S. Naval Institute, as the excuse for seizing the Advantage Sweet.

The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), responsible for Pentagon operations in the Middle East, released a statement shortly after the ship’s seizure, placing blame on the Iranian Navy for the theft of the ship.

“In the past two years, Iran has unlawfully seized at least five commercial vessels sailing in the Middle East,” CENTCOM observed.

On Wednesday, PressTV asserted that the confiscation of the oil, labeled as American rather than specifically belonging to Chevron, was linked to a lawsuit filed by Iranian patients afflicted with epidermolysis bullosa (EB).

“In their complaint, the EB patients, who are characterized by extreme fragility of the skin and mechanically induced blistering, claimed damages against the US,” PressTV explained. “They said that the Western sanctions, especially those by the US, have prevented a Swedish company from selling medicines to Iran and caused severe physical and mental harm to them.”

The Iranian state outlet claimed that the sanctions that prevent the sale of these products were the result of former President Donald Trump withdrawing from the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal, in 2018. The Swedish company in question reportedly stopped interacting with Iranian companies following the imposition of those sanctions.

PressTV did not clarify whether the sanctions genuinely hindered Swedish medical companies from selling to Iran, or if the companies voluntarily refrained out of caution. Additionally, there was no mention of any connection between the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker and the EB patients.

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By Hunter Fielding
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