The Iranian-flagged oil tanker Lana was impounded near a Greek island as part of EU sanctions on Russia for the Ukraine conflict.
The United States has confiscated an Iranian oil cargo held on a Russian-operated ship near Greece and will send the cargo to the United States aboard another vessel.
Three sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday that the ship was impounded as part of EU sanctions on Russia for the offensive in Ukraine.
However, the vessel was later released due to confusion about sanctions over its owners.
The tanker, renamed Lana on March 1 and flying the Iranian flag since May 1, has remained near Greek waters since then. It was previously Russian-flagged.
A source at Greece's shipping ministry said on Thursday that the US Department of Justice had "informed Greece that the cargo on the vessel is Iranian oil".
"The cargo has been transferred to another ship that was hired by the US", the source added, without providing further details.
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The US Department of Justice has seized a shipment of Iranian crude in the Russian-flagged tanker Lana in Greek waters and hired a vessel to bring it to the US, @DowJones reported.— Iran International English (@IranIntl_En) May 25, 2022
“The cargo came from a sanctioned country and moved on a sanctioned ship,” a Greek official said.
Strong objection from Tehran
The development comes after the United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on what it described as a Russian-backed oil smuggling and money laundering network for Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, even as Washington tries to revive a nuclear deal with Iran.
The confiscation was confirmed by a separate Western source familiar with the matter, who added that the cargo was transferred onto the Liberia-flagged tanker Ice Energy, which is operated by Greek shipping company Dynacom.
A source at Dynacom confirmed that a "transfer of the oil was underway from the vessel to Dynacom's Ice Energy, which will then sail to the United States".
Iran's IRNA state news agency reported on Wednesday that its foreign ministry summoned the charge d'affaires of Greece's embassy in Tehran following the seizure of the cargo of a ship which was "under the banner of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Greek waters and he was informed of the strong objections" of Iran's government.
Greek authorities last month impounded the Iranian-flagged Pegas, with 19 Russian crew members on board, near the coast of the southern island of Evia due to EU sanctions.
President Joe Biden's administration has been engaged in indirect talks to restart a 2015 deal former President Donald Trump abandoned, under which world powers lifted international financial sanctions on Tehran in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.
While talks had appeared close to resurrecting the nuclear deal in March, they stalled over last-minute Russian demands and whether Washington might drop the Revolutionary Guards from its terrorism list.
Washington's Iran envoy said on Wednesday the chances of reviving the nuclear deal were shaky at best, and Washington was ready to tighten sanctions on Iran.
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