Middle East

Greece seizes Iran-flagged ship, arrests its crew

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organisation (PMO) said yesterday that Greece had seized an Iranian-flagged ship, arrested its crew members, and seized the cargo onboard.

PMO said Greece had acted upon orders from the US in violation of international law, describing the seizure as “state-sponsored maritime piracy”.

“Athens must immediately release the ship and comply with its international obligations,” PMO said.

Later the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Greek charge d’affaires in Tehran to protest the seizure of the ship, Anadolu reported.

The State Department said yesterday in a statement that “the United States is designating an international oil smuggling and money laundering network, led by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) official Behnam Shahriyari and former IRGC-QF official Rostam Ghasemi, both of whom are designated persons.”

READ: IAEA at ‘very difficult juncture’ with Iran on unanswered questions

“This network is backed by senior levels of the Russian Federation government and state-run economic enterprises,” the statement said.

“We work vigorously to counter sanctions evasion and continue to strictly enforce sanctions on Iran’s illicit oil trade.  Anyone purchasing oil from Iran faces the prospect of U.S. sanctions,” the State Department added.

The statement came a day after US Politico Magazine quoted a high-ranking Western official, whom it did not name, as saying that President Joe Biden had decided to keep the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the US “terror list”.

The magazine quoted another well-informed source as saying that Biden had conveyed his decision to Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, during a phone call on 24 April.

According to the source, the US decision is “absolutely final”, adding that the Iranian “window of privileges” has been closed.

Politico considered that Biden’s decision greatly hinders international efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement.

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