US Seizes Iranian Oil Cargo Near Greek Island
The United States has confiscated an Iranian oil cargo held on a Russian-operated ship near Greece and will send the cargo to the United States aboard another vessel, three sources familiar with the matter said.
Greek authorities last month impounded the Iranian-flagged Pegas, with 19 Russian crew members on board, near the coast of the southern island of Evia due to EU sanctions.
They said the ship was impounded as part of EU sanctions on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. However, the vessel was later released due to confusion about sanctions over its owners.
The tanker, renamed Lana on March 1 and flying the Iranian flag since May 1, has remained near Greek waters since then. It was previously Russian-flagged.
A source at Greece's shipping ministry said on Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice had "informed Greece that the cargo on the vessel is Iranian oil".
"The cargo has been transferred to another ship that was hired by the U.S.," the source added, without providing further details.
The development comes after the United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on what it described as a Russian-backed oil smuggling and money laundering network for Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, even as Washington tries to revive a nuclear deal with Iran. Read full story
U.S. officials did not respond to requests for comment.
The confiscation was confirmed by a separate Western source familiar with the matter, who added that the cargo was transferred onto the Liberia-flagged tanker Ice Energy, which is operated by Greek shipping company Dynacom.
A source at Dynacom confirmed that a "transfer of the oil was underway from the vessel to Dynacom's Ice Energy, which will then sail to the United States."
Iran's IRNA state news agency reported on Wednesday that its foreign ministry summoned the charge d'affaires of Greece's embassy in Tehran following the seizure of the cargo of a ship which was "under the banner of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Greek waters and he was informed of the strong objections" of Iran's government.
Greek government officials could not confirm the information.
(Reuters - Reporting by Eleftherios Papadimas and Renee Maltezou in Athens and Jonathan Saul in London; editing by Jason Neely and David Evans)