News of the State Department’s efforts to seize the Iranian tanker comes following months of sky-high tensions between Iran and the U.S. Fears of war between the two nations have been growing rapidly since President Donald Trump violated the Iran nuclear agreement last year.

As Common Dreams reported in June, Trump approved a strike on Iran following the downing of an unmanned American surveillance drone. The president decided to call off the attack at the last minute.

In response to FT‘s story, Zarif, who was sanctioned by the Treasury Department in July, said the Trump administration’s efforts to impose its will on Iran are beginning to fit a “pattern.”

“Having failed at piracy, the U.S. resorts to outright blackmail—deliver us Iran’s oil and receive several million dollars or be sanctioned yourself,” said Zarif. “Sounds very similar to the Oval Office invitation I received a few weeks back.”

FT reported that Hook’s emails to Kumar were not “an isolated case.”

According to FT, Hook in recent weeks has reached out to “roughly a dozen captains” with similar messages.

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