July 25th, 2024

Oil tanker held by Iran for over a year heads toward international waters, tracking data shows


By Nasser Karimi And Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press on July 11, 2024.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – An oil tanker held by Iran for over a year after being seized was sailing Thursday toward international waters, tracking data showed.

The Advantage Sweet traveled toward the Strait of Hormuz, where it was seized in April 2023 by Iran’s navy. That’s according to tracking data analyzed by The Associated Press.

Iran did not acknowledge the ship’s departure. It came after an Iranian court on Thursday ordered the U.S. government to pay over $6.7 billion in compensation over a Swedish company stopping its supply of special dressings and bandages for those afflicted by a rare skin disorder after Washington imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s government initially said it seized the Advantage Sweet because it hit another vessel, something not supported by any evidence. Then Iranian officials linked the Advantage Sweet’s seizure to the court case that was decided Thursday.

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Karimi reported from Tehran, Iran.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – An Iranian court on Thursday ordered the U.S. government to pay over $6.7 billion in compensation over a Swedish company stopping its supply of special dressings and bandages for those afflicted by a rare skin disorder after Washington imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The order by the International Relations Law Court in Tehran comes after Iran last year seized a $50 million cargo of Kuwaiti crude oil for American energy firm Chevron Corp. in the Strait of Hormuz amid tensions with the West, something it later said came over the court action for those suffering from Epidermolysis bullosa.

A report Thursday by the state-run IRNA news agency described the $6.7 billion order as being filed on behalf of 300 plaintiffs, including family members of victims and those physically and emotionally damaged. IRNA said about 20 patients died after the Swedish company’s decision.

Epidermolysis bullosa is a rare genetic condition that causes blisters all over the body and eyes. It can be incredibly painful and kill those afflicted. The young who suffer from the disease are known as “butterfly children” as their skin can appear as fragile as a butterfly’s wing.

The order comes as U.S. judges have issued rulings that call for billions of dollars to be paid by Iran over attacks linked to Tehran, as well as those detained by Iran and used as pawns in negotiations between the countries – something Iran has responded to with competing lawsuits accusing the U.S. of involvement in a 2017 Islamic State group attack. The United Nations’ highest court also last year rejected Tehran’s legal bid to free up some $2 billion in Iranian Central Bank assets frozen by U.S. authorities.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, apparently sparking the Swedish company to withdraw from the Iranian market. Iran now says it locally produces the bandages.

The nuclear deal’s collapse also escalated tensions between Iran and the U.S., sparking a series of attacks and ship seizures. Iran seized the Marshall Islands-flagged ship carrying the Chevron oil last year. The ship, called the Advantage Sweet, began transmitting its position for the first time since the seizure on Wednesday, potentially signaling the vessel is preparing to depart Iran.

Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, has maintained that the Advantage Sweet was “seized under false pretenses.” It since has written off the cargo as a loss.

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