US forces off coast of Cyprus board Morning Glory tanker, which had been loaded with 234,000 barrels of crude oil
US president Barack Obama approved the Navy Seals’ takeover of the Morning Glory oil tanker.
«US forces, at the request of both the Libyan and Cypriot governments, boarded and took control of the commercial tanker Morning Glory, a stateless vessel seized earlier this month by three armed Libyans,» the Pentagon press secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby, said in a statement.
No one was injured in the operation.
The operation was approved by Barack Obama and was conducted just after 2am GMT on Monday in international waters south-east of Cyprus, Kirby added.
The tanker had a North Korean flag but Pyongyang has denied any responsibility for the tanker, which was carrying oil owned by the Libyan government’s National Oil Company.
«The ship and its cargo were illicitly obtained from the Libyan port of As-Sidra,» the Pentagon statement read. The tanker would soon be en route to a port in Libya with a team of US sailors on board.
The Morning Glory, which departed from the eastern Libyan port of Al-Sidra – controlled by rebels seeking autonomy from the authorities in Tripoli – is reported to have been carrying at least 234,000 barrels of crude oil.
The ship was operated by an Egypt-based company that was allowed to temporarily use the North Korean flag under a contract with Pyongyang, North Korean state news agency KCNA said.
Pyongyang had «cancelled and deleted» the ship’s North Korean registry, as it violated its law «on the registry of ships and the contract that prohibited it from transporting contraband cargo».
As such, the ship had nothing to do with North Korea, which «has no responsibility whatsoever as regards the ship», KCNA said.