ATHENS – After Greece approved release of oil on an Iranian-flagged tanker ship that was confiscated by the United States in April, two Greek ships held by iran were expected to be let go.
Diplomatic sources not named told Kathimerini on Aug. 18 that the release of the Greek tankers was imminent, within a few days, once the Iranian oil ship is back in Iran’s waters.
About 50 Filipino and Greek seamen are still being held on the two Greek ships in Bandar Abbas, detained since late May when a diplomatic tug o’ war developed, involving the US.
The Greek judiciary decided that the ship and its oil cargo must be returned to Iran – after Iran seized the Greek ships as apparent political hostages to force release of its oil supplies on the ship the US asked be detained.
That led to some 56,000 tons of Iranian oil transferred from the Greek-owned tanker Ice Energy, which had been chartered by the US authorities when the cargo was initially seized, to the Iranian-flagged tanker Lana in Piraeus.
After the Lana leaves Greek waters and enters international waters, Iran, according to diplomatic sources, will proceed in turn to release the two Greek tankers, ending the drama.
Iran had had previously warned of “punitive action” against Greece over the case, which has strained relations between the two countries after the US hired the Greek ship to get the oil from the Lana tanker, anchored off Greece.
The Lana, formerly the Pegas, had been expected to sail to the United States before Greece’s Supreme Court ruled the cargo should be returned to Iran, the Reuters news agency said earlier.
Claire Jungman, chief of staff with U.S. advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, which monitors Iran-related tanker traffic, said Greece “had an opportunity to take a stance.”
“Instead, this decision by the Greek courts tells Iran that there are no repercussions for its hijacking of tankers,” Jungman told Reuters.