According to Iranian state media on November 4, the supposed theft of an Iranian oil tanker in the Sea of Oman was blocked by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) navy. Reports claimed that the United States navy was attempting to steal the vessel, which has been vehemently rejected by the Pentagon.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby gave a statement saying, “I’ve seen the Iranian claims. They are absolutely totally false and untrue. It’s a bogus claim.”
The regime, in fact, had seized a Vietnamese-flagged oil tanker in October. Two U.S. Navy ships, backed by air support, had monitored the situation but did not try to prevent the vessel. The vessel is identified as ‘Southys’.
A report on the Tanker Trackers website indicated that the vessel was attempting to make a delivery of 700,000 barrels of crude oil to China, but the shipment was rejected. As a result, Southys was forced to return to Iran, dropping anchor off the coast of Bandar Abbas, before later being relocated to the Strait of Hormuz.
Since the regime has not paid the price of its regional adventurism and nuclear extortion, it continues its malign activities. Why does Tehran take the risk of creating an international fiasco which could lead to a standoff rather than attempting to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)?
The state-run Aftab-e Yazd daily wrote in their November 2 publication that if the Iranian regime return to the JCPOA, then the U.S. and other signatories would not be limited to the terms of the current deal. If the regime chooses to leave the JCPOA, then they must start negotiations all over again with countries that may wish to extend nuclear discussions to other issues. Whatever the decision is that Tehran makes will likely end in a standoff.
It should be noted that Iran’s state-TV broadcasted the entire attack on the oil tanker to somehow boost the morale of the regime’s forces.
This latest ploy by the regime comes at a time where Iran is suffering from crisis after crisis. Iran’s economy has practically collapsed, the Covid-19 pandemic is ravaging the country and society is becoming more restive as the crises worsen daily. Protests are commonplace across the country, with dozens taking place every day and the situation is so intense that the regime is fearing another uprising akin to the one in November 2019, if not worse.
The Mostaghel daily wrote on October 30 that, “The political system in Iran has been facing the crises of political legitimacy, economic efficiency, and structural corruption for many years.”
Warnings of endangerment to state security were issued by the Aftab-e Yazd daily on October 31 who said with the number of people in Iran living in poverty and unable to provide for their families, tensions will only worsen and with nothing to lose, people may resort to violence.
The western powers should not concede to the regime’s extortion campaign. Such provocative actions, which destabilized international peace and security, should not be left unanswered. The regime should be held accountable, and this is the only way to end its malign activities.