(Photo credit: Reuters)
Naval forces from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have seized two ships sailing under the Greek flag in the Persian Gulf on 27 May, in retaliation for the coordinated theft of its oil by Greece and the US.
Local sources have confirmed the names of the ships are the Delta Poseidon and Prudent Warrior, with only the former operated by a Greek crew. They were seized near the Iranian ports of Bandar Lengeh and Asalouyeh.
The Prudent Warrior vessel loaded its cargo at Basrah, Iraq, and was on its way to the US. The Delta Poseidon also loaded its cargo at the same port; its destination, however, remains unknown.
According to AP, the US navy’s 5th fleet said it was “looking into” the seizures, which occurred after Tehran threatened “punitive action” against Athens.
Earlier in the day, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss chargé d’affaires to lodge a complaint over Washington’s illegal seizure of its oil, which was confiscated from a Russian-operated Iranian tanker impounded by Greece the day before.
“The Swiss chargé d’affaires was summoned to convey Iran’s concern and strong protest over the continued violation of international laws and maritime conventions concerning free navigation and trade by the US administration,” Director-General of the Foreign Ministry’s department for US Affairs said in a statement.
Switzerland’s envoy is the official representative of the US in Tehran.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry called for the immediate release of the tanker and the confiscated oil, while the Swiss chargé d’affaires assured officials that Iran’s message had been conveyed to US officials.
On 25 May, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the Greek embassy chargé d’affaires in Tehran, explicitly condemning the seizure of the tanker and laying the responsibility on the Greek government, for engaging in “maritime piracy” with the US.
Iran’s Ports and Maritime Authority said that the vessel had to stop in Greek waters due to bad weather conditions and technical problems. However, the ship did not receive assistance and was instead seized by the Greek government.
A day later, the US seized the oil cargo, and is reportedly shipping it to a US port aboard another vessel.
The illegitimate seizure was confirmed by a separate western source familiar with the matter, who said “that the cargo was transferred onto the Liberia-flagged tanker Ice Energy, operated by Greek shipping company Dynacom.”
Iran openly condemned the Greek decision, referring to it as “unacceptable” surrender to US pressure.
This is not the first time the US has illegally seized Iranian oil in international waters. In August 2020, the US seized four Iranian tankers headed for Venezuela in the Straits of Hormuz. According to reports, the Iranian oil was then sold for over $40 million.
The oil seizure comes as the sanctions-removal talks in Vienna are stalled due to Washington’s unwillingness to meet Tehran’s conditions, specifically, the removal of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the terrorist list.
“We have now reached a point [in the negotiations in Vienna] that if the American side makes a realistic decision, an agreement would be within reach … Zionists tell many lies about Iran’s nuclear issue, but Americans know exactly what they must do if they want to return to the JCPOA,” Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said while speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on 26 May.