Greek nationals commandeered the tanker "St. Nikolas" as the most recent act of Islamic aggression; the hijackers were members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The entry of these malevolent individuals onto the vessel flying the flag of the Marshall Islands into the Sea of Oman caused widespread concern among nations around the world. Furthermore, what motivates this flagrant act of piracy? It is related to the enforcement action taken by the United States against Iranian sanctions-breaking operations in February 2023. Undoubtedly, the illegal activities of Iran persist in posing a threat to international security.
Iranians Claim They Had a 'Judicial Order' to Pirate a US Protected Ship in International Waters https://t.co/WvkBy5oS2Z
— streiff (@streiffredstate) January 11, 2024
Around 3:30 a.m. local time, St. Nikolas received a report regarding the unauthorized boarding of the ship by armed individuals. The vessel was infiltrated by these lawless criminals approximately 50 nautical miles east of Sohar, Oman. As a result of a disruption in communication, the vessel abruptly altered course towards Iranian territorial waters. The hijackers are currently verified to be proceeding directly to the Iranian port of Bandar-e-Jask. Quite the unexpected, indeed! Not exactly. It is common knowledge that Iran routinely violates international laws and standards.
Complicating matters further, the St. Nikolas was transporting an enormous one million barrels of Basra-loaded Iraqi oil. As it approached Aliaga in western Turkey, the vessel was attacked by the Iranians. Even more alarming is the fact that Empire Navigation, a shipping company based in Greece, owns the vessel. This occurrence serves as further evidence that even our allies are susceptible to Islamic extremism.
Now, allow us to delve into the intricate history of St. Nikolas. Empire Navigation was awarded a substantial sum of $1.2 million in 2022 for chartering the St. Nikolas, formerly referred to as the Suez Rajan. Do you know what? This very same vessel was engaged in evasion of US sanctions against Iranian oil while on charter. The United States' prompt action in obtaining a civil forfeiture order and detaining the vessel near Singapore is not unexpected. After transporting the St. Nikolas to Houston, Texas, the oil was seized and subsequently sold by the United States government. Isn't justice served? Not exactly. Despite the fact that the vessel managed to return to Empire Navigation, the Iranians were not delighted. They have been eager to respond ever since, and now they have the opportunity to do so.
The Iranian seizure bears a conspicuous dissimilarity to the aggressive endeavors carried out by the Houthi rebels. Evidently, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) conducted this operation, which therefore constitutes an official Iranian government action. Furthermore, they dared to assert the authority of a "judicial order." To clarify, the St. Nikolas is flown the flag of the Marshall Islands, a nation that maintains close ties with the United States. As per the "compact of free association," the United States bears the obligation of safeguarding the Marshall Islands. Therefore, whether the Iranians are targeting an American-flagged vessel or one that is under the flag of one of our allies, they are in violation of our rights and obligations.
Who is responsible for this disarray? Consider President Joe Biden and his calamitous approach to foreign policy. Biden has been resolute from the outset, seeking to replicate the shortcomings that befell the Obama administration. He is determined to revive the catastrophic nuclear agreement with Iran at any cost, including the risk to our national security. As a consequence, he has demonstrated intransigence in the face of Iranian threats, thereby fostering their audacity. Biden's policies have undoubtedly contributed to the armed confrontation and deterioration of the United States, as evidenced by today's act of piracy.