U.S. officials have rejected an Iranian claim that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) repelled an attempt by the U.S. Navy to seize an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman.
The U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity on November 3, told Western agencies that the Iranian report was false and there had been no attempt to seize a tanker.
In fact, Iranian forces had seized a Vietnamese-flagged oil tanker last month and the U.S. Navy was monitoring the situation, they said.
Officials at the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment, AP reported.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have risen amid talks over reviving a 2015 nuclear deal that saw Tehran curb its nuclear program, which it claims is purely for civilian use, in exchange for the removal of sanctions against it.
Iranian state TV reported the alleged incident earlier on November 3, saying the U.S. Navy had stopped an Iranian oil tanker and transferred its cargo to another tanker heading to an unknown destination.
The IRGC then recaptured the tanker with air support and brought it to Iran’s territorial waters after thwarting a second attempt by the U.S. Navy to retake the tanker, it added.
In a statement on its website Sepah News, the IRGC said the tanker was docked off the port of Bandar Abbas on October 25, suggesting the incident occurred last week.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear agreement three years ago and reimposed the sweeping sanctions, including on Tehran’s oil sector. In response, Tehran has gradually breached limits imposed by the pact.
President Joe Biden came into office offering to revive the deal, but indirect talks between the two sides have been stalled since June.