UANI Condemns Iran’s Hijacking Of ST NIKOLAS

ST NIKOLAS (FKA SUEZ RAJAN) Is a Vessel Operating Under the Supervision of the U.S. Department of Justice

(New York, NY) – On Thursday, masked men from the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Navy (IRIN) hijacked a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker ST NIKOLAS, which last year was subject to a U.S. court-ordered seizure for transporting crude oil for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in violation of U.S. sanctions. United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) first revealed the illicit transfers by the ST NIKOLAS, which was then operating under the name SUEZ RAJAN. UANI’s work resulted in the first-ever U.S. criminal resolution involving a company that facilitated the illicit sale and transport of Iranian oil. The ST NIKOLAS is a vessel under the supervision of the U.S. Justice Department.

In a statement, UANI Chairman Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, and Advisory Board Member and former U.S. Homeland Security Advisor Frances F. Townsend said:

“UANI strongly condemns the Islamic Republic of Iran for its hijacking of the ST NIKOLAS, which is under U.S. Justice Department supervision. It was operating outside Iranian territorial waters in the Gulf of Oman. IRIN is engaging in the same form of piracy that the Houthis are practicing in the Red Sea.

“UANI is concerned about the fate of the crew whom IRIN seized and who are now being held hostage. Despite facing repeated threats of retaliation from Iran, Empire Navigation, which manages the ST NIKOLAS, and its crew admirably cooperated with the U.S. government and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement.

“Today’s hijacking represents a failure for the U.S. maritime task forces which are meant to guard against such piracy. It is troubling that the United States cannot even protect a vessel that is under U.S. Justice Department supervision. It signals that the United States can no longer effectively ensure safe transit through two of the most key waterways in the world: the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. It is the greatest failure in history by the greatest navy in history. The United States and its allies must empower our navy to ensure the safety of international shipping and free flow of commerce.

“IRIN’s hijacking of the ST NIKOLAS also risks sending a chilling message to owners, operators, and crew members of other vessels which find themselves transporting illicit oil on behalf of rogue regimes which violate U.S. sanctions that they could be targeted if they cooperate with the U.S. government. This is why the United States has a responsibility to do everything in its power to ensure the crew and the vessel are immediately released from Iranian captivity. The U.S. government cannot allow Iran to deter the lawful enforcement of U.S. sanctions.”

To read more about UANI’s role in the seizure of the SUEZ RAJAN, please click here.