ATHENS – Greece’s Shipping Ministry won’t bar shipping companies from avoiding Iranian waters after the seizure of two vessels but recommended they stay away from the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.
That came in the wake of Iran warning it would detain more Greek ships in retaliation for Greece helping the United States confiscate oil from a tanker held off Greece’s coast.
Iranian forces seized two Greek-flagged tankers, the Prudent Warrior and the Delta Poseidon, in the Gulf on May 27 and ministry sources not identified told Kathimerini that the vessels were anchored near there and detained.
The Delta Poseidon has a crew of 25, including two Greeks, and the Prudent Warrior has a crew of 23, including eight Greeks and a Cypriot but are occupied by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the crews said in good health.
Greece called for the release of the ships and their crews, denouncing the seizure as an act of piracy but the paper said questions have arisen in Greece that helping the US may have been a bit abrupt.
Unnmaed Greek officials directly involved in the case questioned a decision by the Halkida Court of First Instance to proceed with the seizure of 107,000 tons of Iranian oil from a Russian-flagged tanker off Greece’s coast.
The transfer of Iranian oil from the Lana (formerly Pegas) to two tankers, Ice Energy and Alkinoos, is ongoing and while the officials told the paper that it’s legal under American sanctions that it’s not in the European Union.
The same sources also said there was worry about Iran further retaliating although Greece’s New Democracy government has cultivated closer ties with the US and renewed a military cooperation agreement.
The Greek officials indicated that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government wanted to satisfy the US but ignored warnings it could lead to Iran striking back against Greek vessels who kept going into Iranian waters.
Iran had said that it would take “punitive action” against Greece over the confiscation of Iranian oil by the US from the tanker held at Karystos and that it would be stepped up even more.
The Lana had loaded 700,000 barrels of crude oil from the Syrian island of Siri on August 19 to transport to a Russian-controlled Black Sea port under a bilateral agreement between Iran and Russia.
Mark Wallace, head of The United Against Nuclear Iran nonprofit organization, a staunch opponent of Iran, had asked Mitsotakis to let Greece impound the vessel, saying the ship and its cargo were under sanctions.