Iran Claims it Seized US Cargo Ship Pentagon Denies

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( — April 28, 2015)  — US ship with 34 crewmembers on board, allegedly violated Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf when it was intercepted and seized by the Iranian Navy. The Pentagon denies the vessel belongs to the US, claiming it is registered in the Marshall Islands.

A Pentagon official has confirmed that Iranian forces boarded the Marshall Island-flagged Maersk Tigris vessel, denying it was US property. The representative said Maersk wandered slightly of course into Iranian waters, however the Iranian patrol boat didn’t correct the cargo ship’s course but fired shots above it, and ordered they go deeper into Iranian territory and then they boarded the ship, Reuters reported.

According to US Army Colonel Steve Warren, the Maersk cargo ship ignored the warnings but complied after the shots were fired. After boarding, the ship was redirected to a nearby Iranian harbor in the city of Bandar Abbas, Fars and Al Arabiya reported earlier.

Reportedly, the ship had no US citizens on board and it was traveling through the Strait of Hormuz when it was seized.  However, the Pentagon representative said that the USS Farragut and US planes responded to a distress call from the vessel and are monitoring the situation.

Oddly, according to Reuters tracking data, the Maersk Tigris is ‘underway,’ on a ‘fast’ course to Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates. The Marine Traffic tracking system also says it is heading for Jebel Ali, at a speed of 4.5 knots.

Iran and the Pentagon, however, said an Iranian warship escorted the Maersk cargo ship to the city of Bandar Abbas, Fars and Al Arabiya.

According to Fars, there has been no official confirmation of the seizure.

The incident with the Marshall Islands-flagged Maersk ship comes amid six world powers and Iran negotiations of the development of a nuclear deal. While President Barack Obama wants to ease sanctions against Iran, former US president George Bush Jr. called Obama naive if he eases the sanctions against Iran. Moscow already lifted the military equipment and weapons embargo to Iran delivering its air defense s-300 rocket system.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told a global gathering on nuclear disarmament on Tuesday that a deal is “closer than ever” but that tough negotiations lie ahead. The comment came after Kerry met with Iran’s foreign minister on the sidelines, Russia Today reported.