Iran seizes Greek oil tankers in escalation of Tehran’s spat with Western powers
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have seized two Greek oil tankers, after the Iranian government said it would take “punitive action” against Greece over its seizure of an Iranian oil cargo last month.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) said it had seized two Greek tankers sailing in international waters off the coast of Iran.
The seizures come after Greek authorities last month took control of Russian owned oil tanker Pegas, whilst it was sailing off the Greek island of Evia, before seizing its cargo of Iranian oil.
The US later confiscated the Iranian oil cargo and sent it to America, in an act Iran’s port authorities called a “clear example of piracy.”
Tehran later vowed to take “punitive action” against Greece in response to the seizure, after summoning the envoy of Switzerland, which represents US interest in Iran, to object to America’s seizure of the oil cargo.
It remains unclear as to whether the US seized the cargo for breaching sanctions on either Iran or Russia, with countries facing stringent restrictions from the world’s biggest economy.
The seizures mark an escalation in the row between the US and Iran, as world powers continue to work with the Islamic Republic to lift sanctions on the country via a restored version of the Iran nuclear deal.
A revived nuclear deal would allow Iranian oil to flood back onto the market at a time of soaring energy prices caused by the war in Ukraine.
High oil prices have however bolstered Tehran’s bargaining power by giving it breathing room in the face of crippling US sanctions.
More recently, the US has accused Iran of working with Russia to help the country evade Western sanctions, through a Revolutionary Guard led oil smuggling and money laundering scheme.