America Acknowledges April Seizure of Iranian Oil Headed to China

( – The Justice Department has confirmed the US has seized a tanker illegally shipping Iranian oil to China. There’s just one problem — the seizure happened in April. Why has it taken five months for the administration to admit it?

On September 8, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a press release announcing the “successful disruption” of a crude oil smuggling operation by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the independent military organization controlled by Iran’s religious leaders and designated as a terrorist group by the US. The IRGC planned to ship nearly a million barrels of Iranian crude, worth almost $90 million, to China in violation of international sanctions. They hired a Greek-registered tanker, the MV Suez Rajan, loaded the oil at sea to hide its origins, and sent it off to the communist dictatorship.

It never got there. Instead, as it sailed through Southeast Asia in April, it was boarded and seized by US forces. At the time, the administration refused to confirm the ship was in American hands, but Iran seized two US-bound tankers in retaliation. Now the DOJ has admitted to the operation and revealed that after the seizure, the tanker’s Greek operators agreed to sail it to the US and offload its cargo here. The company that owns the ship, Suez Rajan Ltd, pleaded guilty to sanctions-busting and paid a $2.5 million fine.

So why did it take so long for the administration to admit the US seized the ship? The oil was in the US, and the ship’s owner was fined, within a couple of weeks of the seizure. The clue might be in the DOJ press release. It says Homeland Security and the FBI are investigating. That suggests there’s more going on than a single tanker. It’s possible Iran could try to violate sanctions again; hopefully, the Biden administration will respond by abandoning its attempts to resurrect the failed 2015 nuclear deal and tighten restrictions on the Tehran regime.   

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