Iran tanker stunt to ‘derail ongoing nuclear talks’ as US tipped for major retaliation | US | News

Iran‘s decision to seize a US-bound oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman could “escalate tensions” between Tehran and Washington, a foreign policy analyst has warned.

Tehran has landed itself in hot water after its navy seized a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker amid wider tensions over the country’s nuclear programme.

Satellite tracking data for the Advantage Sweet from showed it in the Gulf of Oman, just north of Oman’s capital, Muscat, on Thursday afternoon.

The vessel had just come from Kuwait and listed its destination as Houston, Texas when it issued a distress call while in international waters.

Dave Conway told Iran could “derail the ongoing nuclear negotiations” with the United States and push Washington into hitting Tehran with further sanctions.

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He said: “Iran has been under immense economic pressure due to US sanctions, and this could be seen as a retaliatory measure.

“This is likely to further escalate tensions between the two countries, and could have a significant impact on the ongoing nuclear negotiations.

“In my view, the seizure of the US tanker has further strained relations between Iran and the US, and could potentially derail the ongoing nuclear negotiations.”

The seizure of the Advantage Sweet is the latest in a series of incidents that began after Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Under the deal, Tehran drastically limited its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

The EcoMotionCentral co-founder warned failure to release the oil tanker could ultimately push the US into “other forms of retaliation” rather than further sanctions.

He continued: “The US has already imposed severe economic sanctions on Iran, and this latest incident could lead to further sanctions or other forms of retaliation.

“This could make it even more difficult for the two countries to come to an agreement on the nuclear issue.

“It is clear that the seizure of the US tanker has further exacerbated the already tense relationship between Tehran and DC, and could have a significant impact on the ongoing nuclear negotiations.

“In my opinion, both sides need to take steps to de-escalate the situation and find a peaceful resolution to the dispute.”

Negotiations over Iran’s tattered nuclear deal have been stalled for a year. Since the deal’s collapse, Tehran has been running advanced centrifuges and has a rapidly growing stockpile of enriched uranium.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has warned Iran has enriched up to 60 percent purity — a short technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90 percent.

That would be sufficient for Iran to make several nuclear weapons if it chooses to do so.

US Army Gen. Erik Kurilla, the top US commander for the Middle East, said in a statement that the “illegal seizure” of the tanker was “another in a continuing series of violations by Iran of the international rules-based order.”

The vessel’s manager, a Turkish firm called Advantage Tankers, issued a statement acknowledging the Advantage Sweet was “being escorted by the Iranian navy to a port on the basis of an international dispute.”

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