Vietnam was seeking more information Thursday about a Vietnamese oil tanker that was seized at gunpoint last month by Iranian soldiers in the Gulf of Oman, while vowing to ensure the safety and humane treatment of the ship’s crew members.
Iran’s powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guard troops on Oct. 24 took control of the MV Sothys, a vessel that analysts suspect of trying to transfer sanctioned Iranian crude oil to Asia. U.S. forces had monitored the seizure but ultimately didn’t take action as the vessel sailed into Iranian waters.
The episode was the latest provocation in Mideast waters as tensions escalate between Iran and the United States over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Vietnamese officials “continue to closely follow the developments and work closely with Iranian authorities to resolve this issue in accordance with the law and enact necessary measures to safeguard the rights and interests of Vietnamese nationals,” Pham Thu Hang, deputy spokesperson in Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Thursday.
The captain of the MV Sothys told the Vietnamese Embassy in Iran that all 26 crew members were being treated well and were in “normal health,” Hang told reporters at a scheduled briefing.
Iran celebrated its capture of the vessel in dramatic footage aired on state television Wednesday, the day before the 42nd anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
Ship-tracking data analyzed by The Associated Press from MarineTraffic.com showed the vessel still off Iran’s southern port of Bandar Abbas on Tuesday. A satellite photo from Planet Labs Inc. also showed the vessel off Bandar Abbas in recent days.
Iranian state TV offered a series of contradictory reports about a confrontation between the Guard and the U.S. Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet. State TV sought to cast the incident as an act of American aggression against Iran in the Gulf of Oman, with the U.S. Navy detaining a tanker carrying Iranian oil and the Guard freeing it and bringing it back to the Islamic Republic.
Source » iranbriefing