The US administration seized tanker ships allegedly carrying Iranian oil on the grounds that it violated the sanctions against Tehran, according to the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

The four fuel cargo vessels — Luna, Pandi, Bering and Bella — were confiscated in recent days in the open sea for the first time for violating sanctions imposed by the US President Donald Trump administration, and are currently on its way to Houston, it said, citing US officials.

In July, US prosecutors filed a lawsuit to seize the gasoline aboard four tankers that Iran was trying to ship to Venezuela, aiming to prevent the revenues flow from oil sales to Iran.

Iran’s economy, traditionally dependent on oil exports, has withered in recent years with the US government reinstating crippling economic sanctions.

The tensions between Iran and the US escalated after Trump announced a unilateral exit from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and reinstated sanctions that had been eased by his predecessor.

Iran’s oil industry has been hit hard by the sanctions, with many countries cutting down oil imports from Iran, fearing backlash from the US.

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