September 25, 2022

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Iranian vessel retrieves seized oil, leaves Greece

TEHRAN— An Iranian-flagged tanker has reclaimed an oil cargo that the U.S. had confiscated and is on its way to depart Greece, people knowledgeable with the situation say.

Following the seizure of the Lana, previously the Pegas, Iranian soldiers seized two Greek tankers in the Persian Gulf in May, which have yet to be freed.

In April, the U.S. hired a tanker to impound the oil onboard the Lana tanker, which was anchored off the coast of Greece.

The oil was subsequently partially extracted and loaded onto the Ice Energy tanker, which Washington had hired and was scheduled to sail to the United States until Greece’s Supreme Court determined that the cargo should be returned to Iran.

“The reloading procedure is finished,” one person claimed. According to another report, it was completed on Sunday.

The Iranian embassy in Athens announced on Twitter on August 12 that the vessel would sail to Iran once the reloading was done.

It was unclear whether the Lana, which had engine problems, could sail independently.

The Lana was detained for more than two months off the Greek island of Evia, near the village of Karystos. Following the court decision to allow its release, it was towed to Piraeus.

Since late July, the ship has been anchored off the coast of Piraeus.

On May 25, Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) issued a statement about the arrest of the Iranian cargo vessel in Greek waters, describing the move as an act of piracy and violation of international standards.

“Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) as the duly authorized maritime administration of the Islamic Republic of Iran reacted against the actions of the Greek Government as to hindering the Iranian vessel from sailing and arresting her cargo, and urged the Greek Government to fulfill its international obligations,” the statement said. 

“While Greece has undertaken such international obligations, and is responsible toward the Islamic Republic of Iran as a Member State of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), such unacceptable measures have unfortunately been taken by the Greek Government, toward a vessel in need of being transferred to a place of safety, experiencing technical problems, and facing bad weather conditions. Hence, the vessel has been held under a court order, and the oil cargo of the vessel arrested,” it continued. 

An Iranian lawmaker said at the time that in the new alignments taking shape in the region, Greece sided with Saudi Arabia and detained an Iranian oil tanker with the aim of reducing Iranian oil supplies.

On May 31, Ahmad Ali Reza Beigi called the Greek seizure of the Iranian oil tanker a “piracy” that was part of regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“What Greece has done is part of regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Greece detained the Iranian oil tanker due to its relations with Saudi Arabia,” Beigi said. “In the new alignments that have taken shape Greece sided with Saudi Arabia and this move was aimed to restrict the possibility of Iran supplying the global market with oil.”

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