Tehran says ‘technical issue’ cause of vessel detention after Indonesia seizes Iranian tanker over alleged illegal oil transfer

Tehran says ‘technical issue’ cause of vessel detention after Indonesia seizes Iranian tanker over alleged illegal oil transfer

Tehran has dismissed allegations that an Iranian-flagged oil tanker has been seized for illegally transferring oil, despite Indonesian authorities claiming the ship was “caught red-handed.”

Speaking on Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said they were still waiting for more information from the Indonesian government but claimed a senior Iranian diplomat had assured Tehran that the issue was purely technical. 

“The senior diplomat of our country said this is a technical issue, and there have been such incidents in the shipping issue before,” Khatibzadeh stated.

“The Ports and Shipping Organization and the ship owner company are looking to investigate the reasons for the issue and resolve this issue, and our embassy in Indonesia, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is closely following this issue,” he added.

On Sunday, the Iranian-flagged ‘MT Horse’ and the Panamanian-flagged ‘MT Freya’ vessels were seized by Indonesian authorities over suspected illegal oil transfer in the country’s waters. 

“The tankers, first detected at 5:30 a.m. local time (2130 GMT on Jan. 23) concealed their identity by not showing their national flags, turning off automatic identification systems and did not respond to a radio call,” Indonesian coast guard spokesman Wisnu Pramandita said in a statement.

Wisnu claimed the vessels were “caught red-handed” and that an oil spill was identified around the tankers. He said 61 crew members from both vessels have been detained. 

Both tankers are capable of carrying two million barrels of oil. 

Tehran has frequently been accused of directing its tankers to switch off their tracking systems in order to conceal the destination of their oil exports and evade US sanctions. 

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Earlier in January, Iran seized a South Korean vessel reportedly carrying some 7,200 tons of chemicals in the Strait of Hormuz during its journey from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates. 

Tehran says the vessel was seized after it was caught polluting the seas but has also demanded South Korea release seven billion dollars Iranian assets, frozen due to US sanctions. Iran denies it has taken the ship hostage.

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