'Absolutely Totally False': Pentagon Refutes Iranian Claim That US Forces Attempted to Seize Oil
The US Department of Defense sternly rejected claims on Wednesday that American naval forces ever attempted to seize a vessel carrying Iranian oil, an allegation that was earlier pushed by Iran.
The condemnation was aired by Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, who told reporters during a news briefing that claims made by Iranian officials were "absolutely totally false and untrue."
"I've seen Iranian claims they are absolutely totally false and untrue," Kirby said Wednesday. "There was no such effort by US naval assets to seize anything."
"It's a bogus claim," the official underscored.
Kirby subsequently followed up his remarks by explaining that the allegations stemmed from an October 24 incident in which the US claims involved Iranian forces seizing a Vietnamese-flagged oil tanker.
"What this refers to is back on the 24th of October, US Navy assets did monitor Iranian forces, illegally boarding and seizing a merchant vessel in international waters in the Gulf of Oman," Kirby said during at the briefing.
Washington has maintained that it had only monitored the incident, and that US forces had acted in accordance with international law. "The only seizing that was done was by Iran," Kirby emphasized.
Kirby's commentary surfaced after Iranian media issued a series of contradictory reports
on Wednesday that detailed it was US military personnel who “confiscated the Iranian tanker loaded with crude oil in the Sea of Oman,” where members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy “reacted promptly” and gained control of the vessel, directing it back towards Iran’s territorial waters.
“The United States stopped a tanker exporting Iranian oil and transferred its cargo to another tanker which it directed towards an unknown destination,” the state media had earlier reported.
Tensions between the two nations have remained heated over the last several months as Iran has repeatedly warned the US against its military presence in the Gulf, highlighting that Iranian forces have conducted increased patrols of the region to ensure safe passage of Iranian vessels.
The latest spate unfolded just as Iran announced
that it would be returning to stalled negotiations to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in the hopes of easing restrictive sanctions. Talks are expected to resume on November 29.