TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran seized a foreign-registered vessel, smuggling one million liters of Iranian fuel, in the Persian Gulf, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said on Thursday.
The ship was captured Sunday, the IRGC said as it released footage of the capture, showing Iranian navy boats circling the ship, called Riah.
Twelve crew members were on the Panamanian-flagged vessel when it was taken near the Strait of Hormuz.
According to an IRGC statement, the incident took place to the south of the Iranian island of Larak on Sunday.
IRGC naval forces, which were patrolling the waters on an anti-smuggling mission, acted against the vessel in a "surprise” operation upon ascertaining the nature of its cargo and securing the required legal approval from Iranian authorities.
The ship had loaded the fuel from Iranian dhows and was about to hand it over to other foreign vessels in farther waters.
The statement also rejected reports by some Western media outlets trying to accuse the IRGC of seizing another vessel in recent days.
Later on Thursday, Iran's Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif told reporters in New York that the vessel was not actually a tanker, but a small ship used to smuggle one million liters – not one million barrels – of crude oil.
"We do this (inspecting ships) every day. These are people who smuggle our oil,” the top diplomat noted.
On Tuesday, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry reported how the IRGC had assisted a foreign crude oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, after receiving a request for help from the vessel.