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Tit-for-tat: Iran stokes tensions after seizing two Greek tankers in the Persian Gulf


In an apparent tit-for-tat move, two Greek tankers were seized by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards in the Persian Gulf on Friday, media reported. This comes as Greece seized an Iranian tanker at the request of the United States for alleged sanctions violations in the Mediterranean Sea recently. Tensions are already running high between Iran and the West as nuclear deal negotiations stall. On its website, the Iranian force issued a statement. In it, the Guard accused the anonymous tankers of unspecified violations.

On development, the Greek Foreign Ministry has made a forceful representation to the Iranian Ambassador in Athens over the “violent takeover of two Greek-flagged vessels” in the Persian Gulf. “These acts effectively amount to acts of piracy,” said a statement from the ministry.

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Calling for the immediate release of the ships and their crews, the ministry said the acts would have “particularly negative consequences” in bilateral relations. It will also sour Iran’s relations with the European Union since Greece is a member of the body.

An Iranian helicopter landed on the Greek-flagged “Delta Poseidon,” which was in international waters about 22 nautical miles off the Iranian coast, the ministry said earlier on Friday. “Gunmen then captured the crew,” he added. The crew includes two Greek nationals.

“A similar incident was reported on another Greek-flagged ship, which was carrying seven Greek citizens, near the Iranian coast,” the ministry said. The second vessel has been identified as the Prudent Warrior, a Greek official said on condition of anonymity. The ship’s owner, Polembros Shipping in Greece, said the company was “cooperating with the authorities and doing everything possible to effectively remedy the situation”.

(With agency contributions)

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