Iran Claims No Knowledge of Oil Cargo U.S. Wants to Seize

Iran said it knew nothing about a cargo of oil that the U.S. is trying to seize and which Washington claims was exported covertly by the Islamic Republic.

“I don’t know anything about it,” Deputy Oil Minister Amir Hossein Zamaninia told reporters in Tehran on Sunday, when asked about the 2 million barrels of crude aboard the Greek-owned Achilleas tanker.

The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in a U.S. district court last week, alleging that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the IRGC-Qods Force shipped the oil abroad and disguised its origin to avoid American sanctions.

The department ordered the ship to sail to the U.S. before Joe Biden succeeded Donald Trump as president last month. The case could complicate the Biden administration’s attempts to re-engage with Tehran after Trump abandoned a nuclear accord in 2018 and hobbled the economy through sanctions.

The lawsuit states that the ship’s owner, Capital Ship Management Corp., was deceived about where the oil came from.

Higher Exports

Iran has increased petroleum exports in recent months, according to ship-tracking firms, though they remain far below levels from early 2018.

Global markets would be able to absorb more supplies of Iranian oil, Zamaninia said.

Oil prices have risen rapidly since November due to the roll-out of coronavirus vaccines and because OPEC and its allies such as Russia are curbing production.

Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, speaking at the same event, said fellow members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries have expressed no concerns that an increase in Iranian output might contribute to an oversupply of crude.

“I haven’t seen anything,” Zanganeh said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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