Iranian forces detained two Greek-flagged tankers in the Persian Gulf on Friday following the seizure of Iranian oil by the US from a tanker anchored off the Greek island of Evia in the Aegean Sea over alleged sanctions violations in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Iranian state news agency Irna said that the Revolutionary Guards Navy seized two Greek tankers for violations in Gulf waters.
Greece’s foreign ministry confirmed the news, saying that an Iranian helicopter landed on Delta Tankers’ suezmax Delta Poseidon in international waters some 22 nautical miles off the coast of Iran and that a similar incident was reported to have occurred on another suezmax which has been meanwhile identified as Polembros Shipping’s Prudent Warrior.
Greece lodged a strong protest against the Iranian ambassador in Athens over the “violent occupation of two Greek-flagged ships”, describing the acts as essentially equivalent to piracy. The country’s ministry called for the immediate release of the vessels and their crews and said these acts would have a particularly negative impact on bilateral relations and Iran’s relations with the EU.
In a release on Friday, the ministry added that it had informed its allies, the European External Action Service, and the International Maritime Organisation, and also advised its citizens to avoid traveling to Iran.
Greek authorities last month seized the Iranian-flagged tanker, with 19 Russian crew members on board, due to EU sanctions. The US then impounded the Iranian oil cargo from the tanker, which was ultimately freed, but the move inflamed tensions at a delicate time in negotiations between Iran and global powers to revive a nuclear deal.