1 of 2 | Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, was joined by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and both chambers of Congress in calling on President Biden to address a vessel laden with Iranian oil that's stuck off the coast of Texas. File photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 16 (UPI) -- A Bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday called on President Joe Biden to act quickly to find a response to a sanctions-related issue stemming from a vessel carrying oil for Iran that's now stranded off the coast of Texas.
Led by Sen. Joni Ernst, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a Republican representing Iowa, the group of House and Senate lawmakers sent a letter to the president urging him to find a resolution to the situation surrounding the oil tanker Suez Rajan, which has been stranded offshore Texas for months.
"We request that you work expeditiously to resolve the delay in the transfer of seized oil from the Suez Rajan and continue to enforce the law against Foreign Terrorist Organizations, such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps," they wrote. "The enforcement of petroleum sanctions will become irrelevant if American citizens and companies involved constantly live in fear of Iranian retaliation."
Suez Rajan was seized by the U.S. government earlier this year for transferring Iranian oil off the coast of Singapore in violation of sanctions meant to limit Iranian oil trade. Iran had been allowed to trade its oil on the open market, though former U.S. President Donald Trump left the multilateral agreement that allowed for such activity, though Biden has largely continued to counter Iran.
Tensions between Iran and several Western powers are on the rise. Last week, more than 3,000 U.S. sailors and Marines arrived in the Middle East aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan and dock landing ship USS Carter Hall.
The units deployed under orders from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to deter "Iranian destabilization activities in the region."
"No American citizen or company should ever fear retaliation from an FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization) for assisting in lawful law enforcement activities or engaging in lawful commerce," the House and Senate leaders wrote.
Détente may nevertheless be developing between Washington and Tehran. Five U.S. residents detained in Iran for years were moved from prison and placed under house arrest last week.
Ernst was joined by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Lindsay Graham, R-S.C.,Bill Hagerty R-Tenn., and Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. From the House, Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., Jim Banks, R-Ind., Don Davis, D-N.C., and Max Miller, R-Ohio, joined in signing.