Oil tanker in the Persian Gulf (archive)
Oil tanker in the Persian Gulf (archive)iStock

Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Sunday they seized a foreign vessel smuggling fuel in the Gulf and arrested its crew members, AFP reported, citing state media.

The Guards "seized a foreign vessel carrying 200,000 liters (around 53,000 gallons) of smuggled fuel in the north of the Persian Gulf and directed it to Bushehr (port)", state broadcaster IRIB said, quoting a statement by the Guards' Navy.

"Eight crew members of the vessel, who are foreigners, were arrested and taken to Bushehr port, where they will be handed over to the judicial authorities to complete the investigation and legal processes," it added.

The crewmen's nationalities were not specified.

The incident is the latest in a series of seizures of fuel-smuggling vessels in sea lanes of the Gulf, where a large portion of the world's oil is produced and shipped.

Earlier this month, Iranian media reported the seizure of a boat carrying 250,000 liters of smuggled fuel and the arrest of its seven-member crew.

Another boat with 11 crew on board was seized on April 9.

In the last few years there have been several close encounters between Iranian and American vessels in the Persian Gulf. The Revolutionary Guard typically patrols the shallower waters of the Persian Gulf and its narrow mouth, the Strait of Hormuz.

One such incident in May of 2020 included a tense encounter between US and Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf.

The US military said at the time that 11 Revolutionary Guards naval vessels from the Guards navy came close to US Navy and coast guard ships in the Gulf, calling the moves “dangerous and provocative”.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard acknowledged that the incident had taken place, but also claimed that it was American forces who sparked the incident.

In April of 2020, a spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces said that the Islamic Republic will respond “severely” if US vessels violate its territorial waters.