Supreme Leader Acknowledges Iran Took Greek Oil Tankers

 

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei acknowledged Saturday that Iran took two Greek oil tankers final month in helicopter-launched raids within the Persian Gulf.

The confiscations had been retaliation for Greece’s function within the U.S. seizure of crude oil from an Iranian-flagged tanker the identical week within the Mediterranean Sea over violating Washington’s harsh sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

“They steal Iranian oil off the Greek coast, then our courageous males who don’t worry dying reply and seized the enemy’s oil tanker,” Khamenei mentioned throughout an 80-minute speech on the anniversary of the dying of the late founding father of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. “But they use their media empire and intensive propaganda to accuse Iran of piracy.”

“Who is the pirate? You stole our oil, we took it again from you. Taking again a stolen property will not be known as stealing,” he added.

The seizures ratcheted up tensions between Iran and the West already simmering over Iran’s tattered 2015 nuclear take care of world powers. Tehran has been enriching extra uranium, nearer to weapons-grade ranges than ever earlier than, inflicting concern that negotiators received’t discover a method again to the accord and elevating the chance of a wider warfare.

 

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Iran’s seizure of the tankers was the latest in a string of hijackings and explosions to roil a area that features the Strait of Hormuz, the slim mouth of the Persian Gulf by way of which a fifth of all traded oil passes. The incidents started after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal, which noticed Tehran drastically restrict its enrichment of uranium in trade for the lifting of financial sanctions.

The U.S. Navy blamed Iran for a collection of limpet mine assaults on vessels that broken tankers in 2019, in addition to for a deadly drone assault on an Israeli-linked oil tanker that killed two European crew members in 2021.

Iranian hijackers additionally stormed and briefly captured a Panama-flagged asphalt tanker off the United Arab Emirates final yr and briefly seized and held a Vietnamese tanker in November.

Tehran denies finishing up the assaults however a wider shadow warfare between Iran and the West has performed out within the area’s unstable waters. Tanker seizures have been part of it since 2019, when Iran seized the British-flagged Stena Impero after the United Kingdom detained an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar. Iran launched the tanker months later as London additionally launched the Iranian vessel.

Iran final yr additionally seized and held a South Korean-flagged tanker for months amid a dispute over billions of {dollars} of frozen property Seoul holds.

Satellite pictures analyzed by the AP on Wednesday confirmed that one of many two tankers remained off the coast of the Iranian port metropolis of Bandar Abbas. The Planet Labs PBC pictures from Tuesday confirmed the Prudent Warrior between Bandar Abbas and Iran’s Qeshm Island close to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the slim mouth of the Persian Gulf by way of which a fifth of all of the world’s oil traded passes.

It remained unclear the place the second ship, the Delta Poseidon, was.

Talks in Vienna on the nuclear deal have been stalled since April. Since the deal’s collapse, Iran has run superior centrifuges and has a quickly rising stockpile of enriched uranium. Nonproliferation specialists warn Iran has enriched sufficient as much as 60% purity — a brief technical step from weapons-grade ranges of 90% — to make one nuclear weapon if it chooses.

Iran insists its program is for peaceable functions, although United Nations specialists and Western intelligence businesses say Iran had an organized army nuclear program by way of 2003.

Khamenei, who has ultimate say on all state issues, in his speech Saturday additionally accused the U.S. of supporting latest protests in Iran sparked by worth hikes and the slashing of subsidies by the federal government. Teachers for weeks additionally demonstrated in favor of higher pay and dealing situations.

The worth of the Iranian forex, the rial, has been weakening for years however not too long ago tumbled to new lows, reflecting rising anxiousness over Iran’s economic system,

Khamenei criticized what he known as the decades-long U.S. opposition to the nation and mentioned Washington pins its hopes to such protests. Khamenei, 82, mentioned Iran’s enemies attempt to pit Iranian residents “towards the Islamic system” by way of psychological warfare, the web and monetary help.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials might not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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