Iran's paramilitary revolutionary watchdogs have seized a foreign oil tanker with a crew of 12, which they accuse of smuggling oil into the Persian Gulf, Iran's state television reported Thursday. The report did not mention the ship, but the Iranian state television said earlier that the guard came to the tanker's help when sending an emergency call before it happened, according to Reuters news agency.
The move comes days after an oil tanker based in the United Arab Emirates – the Panamanian flagged MT Riah –in Iranian territorial waters.
"We are aware of the reports but have nothing in this issue," an American defense official told CBS News in a statement. The seizure was the latest in a series of dramatic developments that tensions lie between the United States and Iran over the rebellious nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.
No other nation reported getting an emergency call fromsays CBS News, national security correspondent David Martin, seen as escorted by Iranian marine ships after the transponder who automatically reporting their place was closed by Sunday.
Riah's last reported anchored by Iran's Qeshm Island, hosted by a number of bases belonging to the Islamic Republic's elite revolutionary security force. The Iranian state media report said the seized oil tanker was intercepted south of Iran's Larak Island on the Hormuz route. Larak is a smaller island just south-east of Qeshm.
Iran's state television did not identify the crew's seized vessels or nationalities, but said it was suspended on Sunday. It said the oil tanker was involved in smuggling about 264,000 liters of fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers.
The 190-foot Riah, based in the United Arab Emirates, usually traveled from Dubai and Sharjah on the UAE West Coast before going through the Hormuz route and going to Fujairah on the UAE east coast.
Attacks on oil tankers and Iran pushing down an American military surveillance drone have feared that an armed conflict will break out between the two countries. The United States has sent thousands of extra troops, B-52 nuclear bombers, and advanced Mideast fighter jets in the midst of the increased tensions.