Iran seizes two Greek tankers amid row over U.S oil grab

The seized oil tanker Pegas is seen anchored off Karystos, on the island of Evia, Greece, April 19, 2022. REUTERS/Vassilis Triandafyllou

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

DUBAI/ATHENS, May 27 (Reuters) – Iranian forces seized two Greek oil tankers in the Gulf on Friday, shortly after Tehran warned it would take “punitive action” against Athens for the oil’s confiscation by the United States. Iranian tanker held up the Greek coast.

“The Revolutionary Guards Navy today seized two Greek oil tankers for violations in Gulf waters,” said a statement from the Guards, quoted by Iranian news agency IRNA. He gave no further details and did not specify what the alleged violations were.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said an Iranian navy helicopter landed on the Greek-flagged ship Delta Poseidon, which was sailing in international waters, 22 nautical miles from the Iranian coast, and took hostage. crew, including two Greek citizens.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

He said a similar incident occurred on another Greek-flagged vessel near Iran, without naming the vessel, adding that both actions violated international law and that Greece informed its allies and was a complaint to the Iranian ambassador in Athens.

Greek company Delta Tankers, which operates the Delta Poseidon, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Last month, Greek authorities seized the Iranian-flagged Pegas, with 19 Russian crew members on board, near the coast of the southern island of Euboea due to European Union sanctions.

The United States then confiscated the cargo of Iranian oil held on board and plans to send it to the United States on another vessel, Reuters reported on Thursday.

The Pegas was later released, but the seizure inflamed tensions at a delicate time, with Iran and world powers seeking to revive a nuclear deal that Washington scrapped under former President Donald Trump in favor of returning sanctions against Iran.

Earlier on Friday, Nour News, which is affiliated with an Iranian state security body, said on Twitter: “Following the seizure of an Iranian tanker by the Greek government and the transfer of its oil to the Americans, the ‘#Iran has decided to take sanctions action against #Greece.

He did not specify what kind of action Iran would take.

The Pegas was among five ships designated by Washington on February 22 – two days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine – for sanctions against Promsvyazbank, a bank considered essential to Russia’s defense sector.

It was unclear whether the cargo was seized because it was Iranian oil or because of sanctions imposed on the tanker for its links with Russia. Iran and Russia face separate US sanctions.

NUCLEAR TALKS

A maritime security source said the other tanker seized on Friday was the Greek-flagged Prudent Warrior. Its operator, Greece-based shipping company Polemblos, told Reuters there had been “an incident” with one of its vessels, without giving further details, adding that it was “doing everything possible to resolve the problem”.

US advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), which monitors Iran-linked tanker traffic through ship and satellite tracking, said Prudent Warrior was carrying a cargo of Qatari and Iraqi oil, while the Delta Poseidon was loaded with Iraqi oil.

Each ship was carrying about a million barrels, he said.

“This should have direct implications for the JCPOA (Iranian nuclear) negotiations and further block any chance of reviving a deal,” UANI chief of staff Claire Jungman told Reuters.

A spokesperson for the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain said it was aware of the reported seizures and was reviewing them.

Also on Friday, Iran summoned an envoy from Switzerland, which represents US interests in Tehran, to protest the seizure of oil from Pegas, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.

“The Islamic Republic has expressed its deep concern over the US government’s continued violation of international laws and international maritime conventions,” the Foreign Ministry said as quoted by state media.

A spokesperson for the US Department of Justice declined to comment on the oil seizure.

IRNA quoted the Iranian Ports and Navy Organization as saying the tanker had taken refuge along the Greek coast after encountering technical problems and bad weather. He called the seizure of his cargo a “clear example of piracy”.

The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on what it described as a Russian-backed oil smuggling and money laundering ring for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Al-Quds Force.

In 2019, Iran seized a British tanker near the Strait of Hormuz for alleged maritime violations two weeks after British forces detained an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar, accusing it of shipping oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. Both ships were later released.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos in Athens, Jonathan Saul in London and the Dubai bureau Editing by Angus MacSwan and Mark Potter

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment