US Seizes 1 Million Barrels Of Iranian Oil Allegedly En Route To China

The US seized 1 million barrels of Iranian oil from the ship Suez Rajan in April, which was allegedly being sold to China by the IRGC.

The American administration has acknowledged that it intercepted about a million barrels of Iranian crude oil that were reportedly headed for China.

The department issued its first criminal resolution concerning the illegal sale and transport of Iranian oil, a transgression of U.S. sanctions, along with the confirmation of the seizure.

The United States seized a cargo of crude oil from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a group that has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization, in April, according to confirmation from the Justice Department (DOJ) on September 8.

Vessels identified as the Virgo (left) and the Suez Rajan (right) by the advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, are seen in the South China Sea on Feb. 13, 2022. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

“This is the first-ever criminal resolution involving a company that violated sanctions by facilitating the illicit sale and transport of Iranian oil and comes in concert with a successful seizure of over 980,000 barrels of contraband crude oil,” the announcement reads.

[jetpack_subscription_form title="Subscribe to GreatGameIndia" subscribe_text="Enter your email address to subscribe to GGI and receive notifications of new posts by email."]

US Seizes Sanctioned Oil

According to court records that have not been sealed, the US seized illegal cargo from the ship Suez Rajan in April that was reportedly being sold to China by the IRGC.

Suez Rajan Ltd., the vessel’s owner, entered a guilty plea to conspiring to break the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by smuggling Iranian crude oil that had been sanctioned on April 19. The business consented to a plea deal that included a $2.4 million fine and three years of corporate probation.

The Suez Rajan’s operating firm, the Greek shipper Empire Navigation, promised to cooperate and deliver the Iranian oil to the United States at its own expense, which was later accomplished.

“The contraband cargo is now the subject of a civil forfeiture action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia,” the DOJ stated. “The United States’ forfeiture complaint alleges that the oil aboard the vessel is subject to forfeiture based on U.S. terrorism and money laundering statutes.”

Hiding Oil’s Origin

The Quds Force is an elite division of the IRGC that conducts operations throughout the Middle East, according to the U.S. Treasury.

The accusation alleges that multiple organizations connected to the Quds Force and the IRGC of Iran sold and shipped Iranian oil to China in secret.

The prosecution claimed that the Suez Rajan tried to hide its purchase of Iranian crude oil from one tanker by falsely reporting that it acquired the oil from a different vessel. They did this based on satellite imagery and papers.

They are accused of using techniques including ship-to-ship transfers to conceal the source of the oil as well as hiding the positions and identities of the involved vessels through fraudulent reporting and fictitious documentation.

The accusation claimed that the charterer of the ship manipulated the banking system in the United States to make the transit of the oil possible.

According to the DOJ, the court records claim that the IRGC’s “profits from oil sales support the IRGC’s full range of malign activities, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, support for terrorism and both domestic and international human rights abuses.” 

The ship was in the South China Sea off the northeastern coast of Singapore for months before heading for the Texas coast. The ship transferred its cargo to a different tanker, which recently released its oil at Houston.

At the time, American authorities refused to admit that they had seized the cargo or that the ship was headed to the country. But on September 8, the DOJ declared that the oil had been taken by the American government.

Iran Seizes Tankers

Iran detained two tankers in late April, just after the Suez Rajan left for the United States: the Advantage Sweet, flying the Marshall Islands flag and sailing in the Gulf of Oman for the United States, and the Niovi, owned by Greece and sailing from Dubai to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. Iran was retaliated against by the U.S. Navy, which denounced Iran for “continued harassment of vessels and interference with navigational rights in regional waters.”

Early in July, the U.S. Navy said that it had thwarted two additional Iranian efforts to board commercial tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

The IRGC’s naval arm’s top commander issued a warning against anyone offloading the Suez Rajan the same month, and Iranian state media connected recent seizures to the fate of the cargo.

The United States amended its cautionary statement for shipping passing through the Middle East late on September 6.

“Commercial vessels transiting through the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman continue to be illegally boarded and detained or seized by Iranian forces,” the warning reads.

Iran, which has the fourth-largest oil reserves in the world, is heavily reliant on oil income. But since 2018, sanctions have made it difficult for it to pump at even close to capacity.

According to the commodity data company Kpler, Iranian oil shipments have generally exceeded 1 million barrels per day this year despite U.S. sanctions. According to Kpler’s data, it exceeded 1.5 million barrels per day in May and June and averaged 1.4 million barrels per day in August. China is thought to be a key buyer of Iranian oil, perhaps at a substantial discount.

A study conducted by the De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), the Dutch Central Bank, has revealed that Dutch banks fail to freeze Russian assets due to typos.

GreatGameIndia is being actively targeted by powerful forces who do not wish us to survive. Your contribution, however small help us keep afloat. We accept voluntary payment for the content available for free on this website via UPI, PayPal and Bitcoin.

Support GreatGameIndia


  1. Sanctions on a sovereign country are an act-of-war.

    In this case, Washington thinks they have the right to dictate Iranian activities. Trump murdered an Iranian General in cold blood. He also stole millions of dollars in Iranian oil and gas. Now, Biden is stealing Iranian oil. Washington has carried out color revolutions and acts of terrorism on Iran since 1953. It’s obvious Washington wants war with Iran.

    Iran does not have the power to withstand the US armory so they may have to turn to asymmetric warfare to stop this piracy, theft and murder. You really gotta wonder how we came to have so many psychopaths in the US regime.

  2. According to what international law is Iran’s sale of oil to China “illegal”? America is acting in a criminal fashion when it intervenes. Hopefully in the future, any such attempts will be met by the sinking of the vessel attempting to engage in piracy.

Leave a Reply