U.S.: Unsuccessful Stealing
An Iranian-flagged tanker is reloading oil confiscated in April by the United States after Greek authorities approved the release of the cargo, the Iranian Embassy in Athens and sources familiar with the matter said.
“The operation to transfer Iran’s stolen oil to the Lana tanker... is underway in Greek waters, and the ship will soon depart for our country with a full shipment of oil,” the Iranian Embassy in Greece said on its Twitter account, Reuters reported.
“The transfer has started,” a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on condition of anonymity, while a second source said the process started on Friday and was expected to be completed in days.
Tehran had previously warned of “punitive action” against Athens over the case, which has strained relations between the two countries after the United States hired a ship to impound the oil from the Lana tanker, when it was anchored off Greece.
The Lana, formerly the Pegas, had been expected to sail to the United States before Greece’s Supreme Court ruled that the cargo should be returned to Iran.
The ship had been anchored off the Greek port of Piraeus since late July waiting to reload its oil consignment held on the U.S.-chartered tanker the Ice Energy.
Reacting to the development, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the Greek chargé d’affaires in Tehran in May and conveyed the Islamic Republic’s “strong protest” over the matter to the diplomat.
Later, the chargé d’affaires of Switzerland, which represents the U.S.’s interests in the Islamic Republic, was also summoned by the Foreign Ministry and notified about Tehran’s protest at Washington’s violation of free trade laws.
According to information at the time, the tanker had been carrying 115,000 tons of Iranian oil.
On May 27, Iranian naval forces seized two Greek tankers in the Persian Gulf over maritime violations.
Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said in May that the seizure of the two tankers was retaliation against Greece because it stole Iranian oil.
“The Iranian fuel was stolen off Greece, then the brave forces of the Islamic Republic made up for that by seizing an enemy ship,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a televised speech.
“They accused Iran of theft. Who is the thief? You stole our oil. We took it back from you. This is not theft. You are a thief who stole our oil.”
The Greek official said Athens had been “very hopeful” that the order to release the Iranian tanker would lead to the release of the two Greek-flagged vessels.