2022 – US Blinken strongly condemns Iran’s seizure of Greek-flagged ships by Reuters

© Reuters. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken speaks during a press conference following a meeting with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto at the State Department in Washington, DC, May 27, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Seilbiger

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Monday condemned the “unprovoked seizure” of two Greek-flagged ships by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps last week, the State Department said.

Iranian forces seized two Greek tankers in the Gulf on Friday, shortly after Tehran warned it would take punitive measures against Athens over the United States’ confiscation of Iranian oil from an oil tanker seized off the Greek coast.

“Iran’s continued harassment of ships and interference with the rights and freedoms of shipping poses a threat to maritime security and the global economy,” Blinken said in the statement.

The ministry said Blinken made the statement in a telephone conversation with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

US and Greek diplomats demanded that Iran immediately release the seized ships, their cargo and crew. Blinken said the United States stood with its NATO ally “in the face of this unwarranted takeover”.

The Iranian Maritime Authority said, today, Saturday, that the crews of the two Greek tankers have not been arrested and that they are in good health and are being taken care of on board their ship.

Greek authorities seized an Iranian-flagged Pegass plane off Greece last month due to European Union sanctions. Reuters reported on Thursday that the United States later seized a shipment of Iranian oil on board.

The Bejas and its Russian crew were later released, but the confiscation raised tensions as Iran and world powers seek to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.