Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has seized two Greek ships for allegedly committing violations while sailing in the Persian Gulf.
This step comes days after Greece seized an Iranian ship at the request of the US Department of Justice.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards transferred the Greek oil tankers Prudent Warrior and Delta Poseidon to Iranian waters after seizing them.
Earlier this month, the US Department of Justice ordered the seizure of the Iranian ship, allegedly for violating sanctions against Iran.
Greece responded by saying that “these acts actually amount to piracy” and made a strong move toward the Iranian ambassador in Athens, saying the ship had been violently seized.
Greek media reported earlier that the tanker Lana was carrying more than 100,000 tons of Iranian crude, in violation of the sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union on Iran.
Greece also called on Iran to immediately release the tankers, warning that this would affect bilateral relations and affect Iran’s overall relations with the European Union, of which Greece is also a member.
Tracking data from MarineTraffic.com indicates that both ships came from Iraq’s Basra Oil Terminal, loaded with crude oil.
Prudent Warrior also filled crude oil from Qatar.
US officials familiar with the developments told the Associated Press news agency that the ships did not enter Iranian waters as claimed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, but acknowledged that they were in close proximity.
The Greek Foreign Ministry said Iran’s Revolutionary Guards landed a helicopter on the helipad of the ship, Delta Poseidon.
The ship was at the time at least 22 nautical miles off the coast of Iran.
Then armed men took the crew captive. “A similar incident has been reported of another Greek-flagged ship carrying seven Greek nationals near the Iranian coast,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It is noteworthy that neither of the two ships sent a distress call and turned off their tracking devices, according to the aforementioned US official.
The official said that after the hijacking, the ships drifted into Iranian waters.
Tensions escalated in the region with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard building a ship near the strategic Strait of Hormuz to expand its naval presence in the waters.
The Strait of Hormuz, a narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all traded oil passes, has witnessed numerous kidnappings and bombings that began after former US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal with world powers.
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