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Iran releases 2 Greek tankers held since May

November 16, 2022

The two ships were seized in retaliation over the US confiscation of a tanker carrying Iranian oil off Greece. The release followed an agreement in Tehran.

The Liberian-flagged oil tanker Ice Energy (L) transfers crude oil from the Iranian-flagged oil tanker Lana (R) (former Pegas), off the shore of Karystos, on the Island of Evia, on May 29, 2022.
Iran had confiscated the Greek ships in retaliation over Athens seizing Iranian crude oil on board a Russian-flagged vessel, at the behest of the US treasuryImage: Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

Iran has allowed two Greek-flagged ships to sail on Wednesday after a monthslong seizure, Greek state media reported. 

The ships, Prudent Warrior and Delta Poseidon, were seized on May 27. Ship tracking data showed they were already moving away from the Iranian coast on Wednesday, en route to the United Arab Emirates.

Tehran had held the tankers in retaliation over the US seizure of an Iranian crude oil cargo in Greece.

The Greek Merchant Marine Ministry said in a statement that both parties reached an agreement in Tehran following months of talks.

How did the seizure take place?

Iran's seizure of the two Greek vessels came around a month after Greece seized a Russian-flagged tanker carrying Iranian crude near Athens. At the time, the country said it was acting based on sanctions against Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine.

Athens then proceeded to announce it would deliver the oil captured to the US, prompting Iranian forces to seize the Greek-flagged vessels.

In May, Greece accused Iranian forces of "holding captive" 44 people on board the two ships. It described the seizure as "tantamount to acts of piracy." Iran denied the accusations.

The sailors on board the two vessels were replaced weeks ahead of the ships' release.

There have been numerous attacks in the Persian Gulf since former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

rmt/fb (AFP, Reuters)