Iran driving hard bargain for release of Greek tankers

Iran driving hard bargain for release of Greek tankers

Tehran is reportedly setting terms and conditions for the release of the two Greek-owned tankers it has detained since May in the port of Bandar Abbas.

Tehran is stalling even though the 100,000 tons of oil originally seized by the Greek authorities at the request of the US was returned last week to the tanks of the Iranian-owned ship Lana.

However, there was optimism in Hellenic Coast Guard circles on Wednesday that there would be a solution to the situation which has dragged on since April.

The two Greek-owned Suezmaxes, the Prudent Warrior and the Delta Poseidon, were detained by armed Iranian forces at the end of May, while one was sailing in the Persian Gulf in international waters and the other near the Iranian coast. The hostage-taking of the two ships was in retaliation for the seizure of 100,000 tons of Iranian oil from the Lana, which was seized after suffering a mechanical failure at the Karystos anchorage coming from Turkey.

However, although the basic condition set by Tehran for the release of the Greek tankers has been met, the Prudent Warrior and Delta Poseidon and the Greek seamen on board remain in what is described as a peculiar hostage situation. 

In order to release the two tankers, the Iranians are waiting for the Lana to set sail from Greece and enter international waters, but also, a reliable source told Kathimerini, the signing of an agreement in which the Greek side will commit not take legal action against Tehran claiming compensation for the hostage-taking of the two ships. The same source added that Iran is also seeking to commit Greece to a so-called “national” agreement, which apparently further complicates the case.

Other reports indicate that the Lana suffered mechanical failure and requires tugboat assistance, with companies, however, reluctant to get involved fearing possible US sanctions.

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