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Greece makes U-turn on US demand, releases Iranian oil tanker

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, on May 26, 2022. (File photo by Reuters)

The Greek government has overturned its recent decision to confiscate an Iranian oil tanker, dismissing Washington’s pressures which were behind the seizure in the first place.

According to a statement issued by Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) on Tuesday, the Greek government ordered the release of the ship and its cargo despite sustained US efforts to do otherwise.

“The Greek government has eventually ordered the return of the cargo to its owner and lifted the seizure order thanks to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s decisive and prompt actions, the pursuit of the matter by relevant bodies, and the support from the Minister of Roads and Urban Development [Rostam Qasemi],” read the statement.

Late last month, Reuters quoted an unnamed Greek source as saying that the US Department of Justice had confiscated 700,000 barrels of the Iranian oil cargo.

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

At the time, the PMO described the US seizure of the Iranian oil cargo as an “act of piracy” that was “in violation of international standards.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry also condemned the unacceptable surrender of Greece to illegal US pressures and reiterated that the seizure was an example of international piracy.

The seizure of the Iranian oil tanker took place at a time when the US administration claims that it seeks the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran deal. So far, talks for the revival of the 2015 deal have come to a standstill.

Days after the seizure, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) seized two Greek oil tankers in the Persian Gulf over violations.

Tehran and Athens had friendly relations before the unilateral US imposition of sanctions against Iran and countries working with it. The export of Iran’s oil to Greece was halted as a result of the bans.

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