File photo of a vessel of the National Iranian Tanker Company

Pakistan’s authorities have seized an Iranian tanker trying to bring oil into the country.

The ship was detained off Karachi’s Port Qasim on suspicion that it is violating US sanctions, imposed by the Trump Administration in November 2018. A senior Pakistani legislator said forged documents were used in an attempt to smuggle in the oil.

Abdul Rehman Malik, who chairs the Pakistani Senate’s Standing Committee on Interior, said that US officials informed Islamabad of the attempt. He explained:

We have warned against the transfer of Iranian oil to Pakistan. This is an important international issue and will lead to pressure on Pakistan….The transfer of oil to Pakistan is a violation of the embargo on Iran.”

A senior official from Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, Hossein Abbasnejad, said it has not been officially informed of the seizure. However, he did not deny the reports in Pakistani media.

Iran’s oil exports have been slashed between 80% and 95% since April 2018.

Only China remains as a major customer. It has reduced imports, although some reports claim Iranian oil is being moved into the country without being declared.

The reduction in the exports has fed Iran’s long-standing problems with production, investment, trade, and employment, as well as straining a Government budget which relies on oil sales for about one-third of its revenues.