Iran officially confirmed confiscate two Greek tankers in the Persian Gulf last month in retaliation for Greece’s role in the United States’ seizure of Iranian crude oil from a Russian-flagged tanker.
The country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, acknowledged the move on Saturday, saying Iran was only taking back “stolen goods”.
Greece earlier described the acts as tantamount to piracy and called for a global mobilization to free the ships and their crews, but Khamenei dismissed the charges. “Who is the pirate? You stole our oil, we took it back. Taking back something that has been stolen is not an act of theft,” he said.
In retaliation for Athens’ seizure of the Aframax tanker lanaformerly known as pegasIran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized two Greek-flagged Suezmax tankers, Delta Poseidon and Cautious Warriorand warned that other ships could be targeted if “Greece continued its games”.
Greek Ministry of Merchant Marine strongly recommended its shipowners to avoid Iranian territorial waters when crossing the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.
Meanwhile, the crew on board the two seized tankers are said to be in good physical and mental health, and telephone interviews with their families are being arranged and facilitated. “The captains of both vessels have confirmed that all crew members are mentally and physically well, that the military forces have acted appropriately towards them and that no complaints have been reported,” the statement said. Iranian Ports and Maritimes Organization in its latest statement.
Monitoring service TankerTrackers.com said in a Twitter post on Friday that the Delta Poseidon had been moved from Larak Island to a location off the northeast coast of Qeshm Island, and that the two tankers are now only one nautical mile apart. “We expect them to stay here for the duration of their captivity by the IRGC.”
In Greece today, Ioannis Plakiotakis, the national shipping minister, denounced Iran’s actions. Speaking at Capital Link’s Posidonia conference, Plakiotakis described the tanker seizures as “illegal acts contrary to international law”. Tehran’s decision to take the two vessels showed a “disrespect” to the global community, the minister said, adding that the consequences for global shipping and trade will be very serious.