[Ed. – I’m not so sure the UAE even owns this ship. Looks like a paper ownership and ship-management structure – and one that’s awfully similar to what the Iranians use to evade sanctions. The UAE seems quite blase about it. I’m thinking this could be Iran’s ship, which for some reason is being pulled off the line in a weird little ruse. Could have something to do with whatever was the last cargo loaded.]
A small oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz entered Iranian waters and turned off its tracker three days ago, leading the U.S. to suspect Iran seized the vessel amid heightened tensions in the region.
Iranian state media quoted its Foreign Ministry spokesman early Wednesday as saying the Islamic Republic had aided a foreign oil tanker with a malfunction, but the report didn’t explain further. Oil tankers previously have been targeted in the wider region amid tensions between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.
The Panamanian-flagged Riah turned off its transponder late Saturday night but an Emirati official said it sent no distress call. The concern over its status comes as Iran continues its own high-pressure campaign over its nuclear program after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord over a year ago.