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On May 27, the naval forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) seized two Greek oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.
Greece’s Foreign Ministry said Iranian authorities “violently took over” the two ships in an “act of piracy.”
The Associated Press initially reported that the US Navy is “looking into” the reports. The tankers were boarded in international waters in the gulf, with the AP in follow-up saying that IRGC operatives now have control of the ships.
The IRGC has announced it is in possession of the seized vessels, with Bloomberg reporting, “The Guard’s announcement comes as tensions remain high between Iran and the West over stalled negotiations regarding its rapidly advancing nuclear program.” And more according to the AP:
From South Front:
“The Revolutionary Guards Navy today seized two Greek tankers for violations in Gulf waters,” said a Guards statement, quoted by the state news agency IRNA.
Shipping journal Lloyd’s List identified the two tankers as Prudent Warrior and Delta Poseidon. IRGC forces boarded both tankers with helicopters
A crew of 24 were on board Prudent Warrior, which was carrying a shipment of oil loaded from the Iraqi port of Basra to the US. The tanker is owned by Polembros Shipping in Greece. Delta Poseidon, which had a crew of 25 on board, also loaded oil from Basra. The tanker, which is owned by the Greece-based Delta Tankers, was heading to Greece. Greek nationals were aboard both tankers.
Greece’s Foreign Ministry said it protested to the Iranian ambassador in Athens over the “violent taking over of two Greek-flagged ships” in the Persian Gulf.
“These acts effectively amount to acts of piracy,” the ministry said in a statement.
In April, Greek authorities seized the Iranian-flagged tanker Lana in their waters under pressure by the US. The oil shipment of Lana was transferred on May 25 to another tanker off the port of Karystos on the Aegean Sea island of Evia. Iran threatened to take “punitive action” in response to the unlawful seizure.
The incident comes amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran, who have been in talks over the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The IRGC seizure of Prudent Warrior and Delta Poseidon was clearly a response to the seizure of Lana by Greek authorities. Iran has demonstrated time after time that it will not tolerate any attempts to restrict its ability to export oil. Despite this, US allies continue to harass Iranian oil tankers.