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US Justice Department confiscates Iranian oil cargo: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The Liberian-flagged oil tanker Ice Energy transfers crude oil from the Iranian-flagged oil tanker Lana (former Pegas), off the shore of Karystos, on the Island of Evia, Greece, May 26, 2022. (Photo via Reuters)

The United States government has confiscated an Iranian oil cargo held near Greece for nearly a month one day after Iranian authorities protested against Athens’ decision to hand over the cargo to American authorities, shows a report.

The Thursday report by Reuters news agency cited statements by unnamed source showing that the US Department of Justice had confiscated 700,000 barrels of Iranian oil cargo seized last month off the southern Greek island of Evia onboard a Russian-operated ship.

A Greek source said that the oil cargo had been transferred to another ship hired by Washington and will be send to the US.

The source said the US Department of Justice had “informed Greece that the cargo on the vessel is Iranian oil”.

Another source confirmed the American seizure and said that the Iranian oil cargo is currently being transferred to the Liberia-flagged tanker Ice Energy, which is operated by Greek shipping company Dynacom.

The confiscation comes a day after Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned charge d'affaires of Greece's embassy in Tehran to declare its strong objections to the seizure of an Iranian-flagged ship in Greek waters.

The ship, previously Russian-flagged, had been sailing in international waters before it was forced to anchor near Greece over technical problems.

Iranian authorities have said they will hold the Greek government responsible for the confiscation.

It is the second time the US confiscates Iranian oil outside its territorial waters on trumped-up charges brought by American courts. In 2020, four cargoes of Iranian oil bound for Venezuela were seized by the US with the help of foreign agents. The cargoes were then sold for more than $40 million, according to reports.

The new confiscation comes amid stalled talks between Iran and world powers, including the US, to revive a 2015 nuclear deal four years after Washington abandoned the agreement and imposed sanctions on Iran.

Iran has blamed the lack of decisiveness in Washington for the failure of the talks to revive the nuclear deal. US authorities also said on Wednesday that chances of reviving the agreement is very weak.

The seizure also comes a day after the US government announced sanctions targeting a Russian-backed oil network supporting Iran’s anti-sanctions activities.

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