DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – An oil tanker wanted by the United States and “kidnapped” off the coast of the United Arab Emirates after allegedly smuggling Iranian crude is in Iranian waters, a United Nations agency said Sunday. United.
MT Gulf Sky was captured on July 5, the International Labor Organization said, quoting the ship’s captain. That information matched previous reports from The Associated Press.
“The ship was brought to Iran,” said the ILO.
The 28 Indian crew members landed in Iran and all but two, who did not have passports, flew from Tehran to India on July 15.
The ILO said it had obtained its information from the Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network. The agency had previously released a report indicating the ship’s owners had abandoned the oil tanker and its crew in March near Khorfakkan, an eastern city in the United Arab Emirates.
Neither Iranian authorities nor state media have acknowledged the capture and arrival in Iran of the MT Gulf Sky. The U.S. government has also made no comment,
The United States Department of Justice filed criminal charges in May against two Iranians, accusing them of laundering some $ 12 million to acquire the oil tanker, then named MT Nautica.
According to court documents, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force, which is the elite expeditionary unit of the paramilitary corps, participated in the operation. The two accused men, one of whom has an Iraqi passport, remain unaccounted for.
A US bank froze the funds associated with the sale, prompting the seller to initiate legal proceedings in the United Arab Emirates to recover the vessel, the Justice Department had previously indicated. That process is believed to be still pending, raising questions about how the Emirates oil tanker came out after it was confiscated by local authorities.
Oil tankers sailing in the Middle East, and especially in the crucial Strait of Hormuz, were spotted last year in the face of rising tensions between Iran and the United States. Around 20% of the crude oil sold in the world passes through the Strait of Hormuz. Several oil tankers suffered alleged mine attacks that Washington attributed to Tehran. Iran denied involvement, although it did stop several tankers.