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Source: Reuters

Jul 10, 2023

Iran accuses U.S. Navy of defending fuel smuggling in Gulf incident

DUBAI, July 10 (Reuters) - An Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander accused the U.S. Navy on Monday of defending fuel smuggling in the Gulf by trying to interfere when Iran intercepted a ship last week.

"On July 6th, Revolutionary Guards' Navy personnel were inspecting a ship with the name NADA 2 that was involved in smuggling Iranian oil and gas in the Persian Gulf, which the Americans sought to prevent through a series of unprofessional and risky actions," IRGC Commander Ramazan Zirrahi said in comments reported by Iran's Tasnim news agency.

On July 7th, Iran's Fars news agency reported that the Revolutionary Guards had seized a vessel carrying 900 tons of smuggled fuel with 12 crew members, following a court order.

"The Americans flew several aircraft, including two A-10 fighters, and tried until the last moment to prevent the seizure of the vessel, but it was eventually brought to Bushehr port for legal procedures," he added.

U.S. 5th Fleet spokesperson Commander Tim Hawkins had said last week that the U.S. Navy had monitored the interception of the ship in international waters but had decided not to make any further response.

The incident was one of several involving Iranian forces and Gulf shipping last week.

In another incident, the U.S. Navy said Iranian naval personnel had fired multiple, long bursts at the Bahamas-flagged Richmond Voyager managed by U.S. oil major Chevron (CVX.N) , following Tehran's claims that the ship was involved in a collision which injured 5 crew members from an Iranian ship.

Chevron denied the tanker was involved in a collision and said it had not been notified of legal proceedings or court orders by Iran regarding the ship.

Reporting by Dubai Newsroom Editing by Peter Graff

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