US officials told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that the US had seized four Iranian tankers on the high seas allegedly loaded with Iranian petroleum in violation of US sanctions. The four vessels are now en route to Houston, Texas, a major petroleum port, APA reports citing Sputnik.
According to the WSJ report, the tankers Luna, Pandi, Bering and Bella were all seized without the use of military force in recent days. The effort was reportedly motivated by the arrival of five Iranian fuel tankers in Venezuela earlier this year, which delivered 1.5 million barrels of gasoline to the country, which is similarly placed under restrictive economic sanctions by the United States.
Two of the ships just seized, the Bering and the Bella, were previously intimidated into canceling their shipments to Venezuela in the aftermath of the flotilla. Both ships are registered in Liberia but owned by Greek shippers.
The seizure was enabled by a civil-forfeiture complaint filed by US prosecutors in July, which initially aimed to seize Iranian tankers bound for Venezuela, but also encompassed future shipments elsewhere.