Iran: Crews of Two Seized Tankers Have "Not Been Detained"
Iran has relocated the two Greek tankers it seized last week to the port of Bandar Abbas, where they have been impounded. The crew have "not been detained" and are being "protected," Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization said in a statement Saturday. Nine Greek nationals are among the two ships' crews.
Reports indicate that the tankers Prudent Warrior and Delta Poseidon were intercepted by helicopters and Iranian gunboats and diverted towards Iran. Both vessels have gone dark on AIS, but Iranian media have shared images of them anchored together in Iranian waters.
"All crew members of both Greek ships are in full health and being protected while on board in accordance with international law, and they are provided with necessary services," the agency said.
The seizure followed just days after the confiscation of a cargo of Iranian oil by Greek authorities. Greece took action to seize the cargo on request from the U.S. government, which has taken custody of the petroleum.
The boardings followed just hours after Issued issued a threat to take "punitive actions against Greece." As in previous Iranian vessel seizures, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said that the Greek tankers were impounded not for the purpose of serving its national interest, but rather for unspecified "maritime violations."
In a statement Saturday, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that his nation's dispute is really with a third party (the United States), and that the incident should not hamper the ancient ties and mutual respect between Greece and Iran.
Greece's Foreign Ministry has objected strongly to the seizure and has described it as “equivalent to acts of piracy." France followed suit on Sunday and decried the action as "a serious violation of international law."
"France reiterates its commitment to the rules of international law protecting the freedom of navigation and maritime safety. We call on Iran to immediately cease its actions that contravene these rules," the French foreign ministry said in a statement.