DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard seized two Greek oil tankers Friday in helicopter-launched raids in the Persian Gulf, officials said.
The action appeared to be retaliation for Athens’ assistance in the U.S. seizure of crude oil from an Iranian-flagged tanker this week in the Mediterranean Sea over violating Washington’s crushing sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The raid marks the first major incident at sea in months as tensions remain high between Iran and the West over its tattered nuclear deal with world powers.
As Tehran enriches more uranium, closer to weapons-grade levels than ever before, worries mount that negotiators won’t find a way back to the accord — raising the risk of a wider war.
The Guard issued a statement announcing the seizures, accusing the tankers of unspecified violations.
Nour News, a website close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, just a short time earlier warned that Tehran planned to take “punitive action” over Greece assisting the U.S. in seizing oil days earlier from the Iranian-flagged tanker Lana.
Greece’s Foreign Ministry said it made a strong demarche to the Iranian ambassador in Athens over the “violent taking over of two Greek-flagged ships” in the Persian Gulf.
“These acts effectively amount to acts of piracy,” a ministry statement said.