A tanker off the coast of Texas started unloading seized Iranian oil on Sunday after a months-long delay following bipartisan congressional backlash against the Biden administration, according to The Associated Press.
The Suez Rajan tanker began transferring $52 million worth of seized Iranian crude oil to a separate commercial tanker off the coast of Galveston on Sunday, after the transfer had been previously stalled for months out of fear of Iranian retaliation, according to the AP. A number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers scolded the Biden administration for allowing Iran to make “unprecedented intimidation” efforts against U.S. companies and demanded the immediate completion of the transfer, as the oil’s value could be used to support American victims of terrorism, in a letter sent to President Joe Biden last week. (RELATED: ‘We Never Paid Ransom’: Trump Blasts Biden Over Iran Hostage Swap)
Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, who spearheaded the letter sent to Biden, said that the Biden administration needed to start enforcing sanctions against Iran more strictly to ensure “this never happens again.”
“Finally, after months of delay, the Biden administration has listened to my bipartisan call for action and signaled to Iran that the United States will not be complacent in the face of Iranian threats,” Ernst said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The IRGC never should have been so emboldened to threaten American companies in our own waters.”
🇮🇷🇺🇸Tanker believed to hold sanctioned Iran oil begins to be offloaded near Texas despite Tehran threats
➡️Fate of the cargo aboard the Suez Rajan has been mired in the wider tensions between the US and Iran
➡️Ship-tracking data shows the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker is… pic.twitter.com/qadOn7dXTV
— dana (@dana916) August 20, 2023
The U.S. Coast Guard had previously cleared the oil transfer after the Suez Rajan arrived off Galveston’s coast months ago, but U.S. companies were unwilling to unload the cargo out of fear of retaliation from Iran. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warned in July that the U.S. “should expect to be struck back” if the Suez Rajan was unloaded, according to the AP.
“No foreign adversary should question America’s strength and that we will stand up for the lives and livelihoods of Americans,” Ernst said. “More than offloading the Suez Rajan must be done to end Iranian aggression.”
In early August, the Biden administration struck a deal to transfer $6 billion worth of seized assets to Iran in exchange for five American prisoners. A number of GOP officials and foreign policy experts called the deal a “ransom” payment that would only embolden Iran’s aggression toward the U.S.
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