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Khamenei says two tankers were seized by IRGC after Greece ‘stole’ Iranian oil

Incident last month came two days after Greece confirmed it would send Iranian oil from a Russian-flagged tanker to US in line with sanctions

The Greek-flagged oil tanker Prudent Warrior, one of the ships seized by Iran, is seen as it sails past Istanbul, Turkey, April 19, 2019. (Dursun Çam via AP)
The Greek-flagged oil tanker Prudent Warrior, one of the ships seized by Iran, is seen as it sails past Istanbul, Turkey, April 19, 2019. (Dursun Çam via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s supreme leader on Saturday said that the country’s seizure of two Greek oil tankers late last month was retaliation against Greece because it “stole” Iranian oil.

The Revolutionary Guards boarded and took control of the two vessels in the Gulf on May 27, citing “violations,” which Greece condemned as “tantamount to acts of piracy.”

The seizure came two days after Greece confirmed it would send 115,000 tons of Iranian oil from a Russian-flagged tanker, seized in April, to the United States at the request of the US Treasury and in line with the latter’s sanctions regime.

“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 Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech marking the 1989 death of Ayatollah Ali Ruhollah Khomenei, who founded the Islamic republic.

“It’s you who stole our oil,” Khamenei said, addressing the country’s “enemies.”

Washington, Germany and France all called on Iran to release the vessels.

The Liberian-flagged oil tanker Ice Energy (L) transfers crude oil from the Russian-flagged oil tanker Lana (R), off the shore of Karystos, on the Island of Evia, on May 29, 2022 (Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP)

Athens said Iranian navy helicopters had landed gunmen on the two tankers to carry out the seizures.

Greek authorities had earlier seized the Russian-flagged ship, they said, to comply with sanctions introduced after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. The Iranian maritime authority had described that move as “international robbery.”

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