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Greece has accused Iran of "piracy" after Tehran said it had seized Greek-flagged vessels in the Persian Gulf. Days ago, Greece said it would deliver Iranian oil seized from a Russian tanker to Washington.
Greece protested what it called the "violent seizure" of two Greek-flagged ships in the Persian Gulf by Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Friday.
Earlier Friday, Greece said an Iranian helicopter landed on a Greek-flagged ship, the Delta Poseidon, in international waters some 22 nautical miles near to the coast of Iran.
In a statement, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "Armed men then took the crew captive."
The statement added, "A similar incident has been reported on another Greek-flagged vessel, that was carrying seven Greek citizens, close to the coast of Iran."
A Greek official told the AP the second ship is the Prudent Warrior. Earlier, the ship's owner, Polembros Shipping in Greece, said the company was "cooperating with the authorities and making every possible effort to address the situation effectively.''
Greek officials have not provided details regarding the nationalities of the crews on board the ships at the time of their seizure.
A US defense official told the AP that the two ships had drifted into Iranian territorial waters. The official said both ships had turned off their tracking devices and neither ship had issued a distress call.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards said in a statement on their official website that its forces seized the two tankers due to "violations that were committed," without specifying.
Athens reacted by accusing the Iranians of "piracy" and called in Iran's ambassador in protest.
The seizure comes days after Greece said it would deliver Iranian oil seized from a Russian tanker in the Mediterranean Sea to Washington. Earlier Friday, Tehran said it would take "punitive action" for Greece's role in the incident.
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). However, there has not been a significant incident in months.
Negotiations over the fate of Iran's nuclear program have stalled. Greece's foreign ministry cautioned that the violent seizure of the two ships would have "particularly negative consequences" on bilateral relations as well as on Iran's relations with the EU.
ar/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP)