Jul 17, 2019

Strait of Hormuz re-enters focus for U.S.-Iran tensions

Supertanker Grace 1, which has been seized by Britain, off the coast of Gibraltar on July 6, 2019. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. suspects Iran has seized a small oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates, AP reported Tuesday.

Why it matters: Tensions between Iran and the U.S. — and Tehran and Washington's allies — are unfolding in the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. says it is moving forward with plans to build an international military coalition to protect waters around Iran and Yemen, which includes the straight. President Trump said last month the U.S. was "cocked & loaded" to strike Iran.

The state of play: Iran has not commented on the UAE tanker's reported seizure. The vessel "entered Iranian waters and turned off its tracker" 2 days ago, according to AP.

  • The tanker was traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, which provides passage to about one-fifth of the world’s oil every day.
  • The United Kingdom seized an Iranian oil tanker at the start of July, "on suspicion it was breaking European sanctions by taking oil to Syria," per CNBC.
  • The U.K. said last week 3 Iranian boats tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz before a British warship intervened.

The bottom line: Iran has "threatened to stop oil tankers passing through the strait ... if it cannot sell its own oil abroad," per AP.

Go deeper: How Trump and Tehran came to the brink of war

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