An Iranian oil tanker

A file photo shows an Iranian oil tanker belonging to the National Iranian Tanker Company. (Photo: Press TV)

'Act of Piracy': Iran Claims It Thwarted US Attempt to Steal Oil in Gulf of Oman

U.S. forces reportedly "seized an Iranian oil tanker" and "transferred its oil to another tanker" before Iran's Navy was able to take control of the vessel.

Iranian forces reportedly foiled an attempt by the United States Navy to capture a tanker in the Gulf of Oman and seize its oil, an alleged ploy that Iran's Press TVcharacterized as an "abortive act of piracy."

Without specifying when the events took place, Iran's IRNA news agency reported Wednesday that the U.S. confiscated "an Iranian oil tanker in the Sea of Oman, transferred its oil to another tanker, and [moved] the tanker to an unknown place."

In response, according to IRNA, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces carried out a "heliborne operation" and "took control of the tanker."

"Then the American forces pursued the tanker by helicopters and warships but failed to capture it," the outlet reported. "The tanker is now in Iranian waters."

On Wednesday morning, Iranian media outlets released video footage purporting to show glimpses of the scene, which the U.S. claims did not take place as described.

The latest reported confrontation is one of several tense incidents that have occurred in or near the Persian Gulf in recent years, repeatedly pushing the two nations to the brink of war during the Trump administration.

Al Jazeera's Ali Hashem noted Wednesday that there appears to be "a pattern" of confrontations in the region that began after former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear accord in 2018.

There were "tankers that were set on fire, there were bombs on tankers, there were attempts to seize tankers--so this is not new, it's just escalating," Hashem said.

The U.S., Iran, and European nations are currently in negotiations to resume long-stalled nuclear talks, but the Biden administration is refusing to lift punitive sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy and hindered the nation's ability to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Iran has demanded a guarantee of sanctions relief as a condition for restarting nuclear negotiations.

"Recent suggestions that the U.S. should move on from diplomacy to a 'Plan B,' while hinting at the possibility of military strikes, are deeply concerning," a coalition of nearly 50 groups wrote in a letter to Biden on Tuesday. "Doubling down on the failed path of mutual pressure and recrimination will harm U.S. and regional security, weaken global nonproliferation efforts, undercut vital administration priorities like defeating Covid-19 across the globe, and risk a disastrous war."

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