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Iran captures two Greek tankers amid row over US oil grab

The United States had confiscated the Iranian oil cargo held onboard few days ago

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Iran captures two Greek tankers amid row over US oil grab
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Iranian forces seized two Greek tankers in the Gulf on Friday, shortly after Tehran warned it would take "punitive action" against Athens over the confiscation of Iranian oil by the United States from a tanker held off the Greek coast.

"The Revolutionary Guards Navy today seized two Greek tankers for violations in Gulf waters," said a Guards statement, quoted by Iranian state news agency IRNA. It gave no further details and did not say what the alleged violations were.

Greece's foreign ministry said an Iranian navy helicopter landed on Greek flagged vessel Delta Poseidon, which was sailing in international waters, 22 nautical miles from the Iranian shore, and took the crew hostage, among them two Greek citizens.

It said a similar incident took place on another Greek-flagged vessel near Iran, without naming the ship, adding both actions violated international law and Greece had informed its allies, as well as complained to Iran's ambassador in Athens.

Greece-based Delta Tankers, which operates the Delta Poseidon, could not be immediately reached for comment.

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 European Union sanctions.

The United States later confiscated the Iranian oil cargo held onboard and plans to send it to the United States on another vessel, Reuters reported on Thursday.

The Pegas was later released, but the seizure inflamed tensions at a delicate time, with Iran and world powers seeking to revive a nuclear deal that Washington abandoned under former President Donald Trump in favour of returning sanctions on Iran.

Earlier on Friday, Nour News, which is affiliated to an Iranian state security body, said on Twitter: "Following the seizure of an Iranian tanker by the Greek government and the transfer of its oil to the Americans, #Iran has decided to take punitive action against #Greece."

It did not say what kind of action Iran would take.

The Pegas was among five vessels designated by Washington on Feb. 22 - two days before Russia's invasion of Ukraine - for sanctions against Promsvyazbank, a bank viewed as critical to Russia's defence sector.

It was unclear whether the cargo was impounded because it was Iranian oil or due to the sanctions on the tanker over its Russian links. Iran and Russia face separate U.S. sanctions.

NUCLEAR TALKS

A maritime security source said the other tanker seized on Friday was the Greek-flagged Prudent Warrior. Its operator, Greece-based shipping firm Polembros, told Reuters there had been "an incident" with one of its ships, without elaborating, adding it was "making every effort to resolve the issue."

U.S. advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), which monitors Iran-related tanker traffic through ship and satellite tracking, said Prudent Warrior was carrying a cargo of Qatari and Iraqi oil, while the Delta Poseidon was loaded with Iraqi oil.

Each vessel was carrying approximately one million barrels, it said.

"This should have direct implications on the JCPOA (Iran nuclear) negotiations and further stalling any chances of reviving a deal," Claire Jungman, chief of staff at UANI, told Reuters.

A spokesperson with the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain said it was aware of the reported seizures and was looking into them.

Also on Friday, Iran summoned an envoy of Switzerland, which represents U.S. interests in Tehran, to protest against the Pegas oil seizure, the Iranian foreign ministry said.

"The Islamic Republic expressed its deep concern over the U.S. government's continued violation of international laws and international maritime conventions," state media quoted the foreign ministry as saying.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment on the oil seizure.

IRNA quoted Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization as saying the tanker had sought refuge along the Greek coast after experiencing technical problems and poor weather. It called the seizure of its cargo was "a clear example of piracy".

SOURCE: REUTERS

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.

In 2019, Iran seized a British tanker near the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations two weeks after British forces detained an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar, accusing it of shipping oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. Both vessels were later released.

World

Rainstorms lash northeast China, trapping cars, buses in floods

Alerts for flood risks were also issued in Jilin province, north of Liaoning.

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Rainstorms lash northeast China, trapping cars, buses in floods

Beijing: Heavy rain battered China's northeastern rust belt on Thursday, triggering floods that trapped buses, swamped roads and disrupted commuters in cities, with more storms forecast for coming days.

In Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, its 7.6 million residents were caught off-guard by the unexpectedly heavy rain even though several red alerts, the highest in a four-tier storm warning system, were issued on Wednesday.

Residents woke up to public messages on their mobile phones telling them to delay heading to work and call off any non-essential activities because of "extreme weather".

Traffic police data showed 52 waterlogged sections of roads, 30 of which were closed.

Five students and a driver were marooned in a school bus in one inundated area and had to be saved by rescuers in rubber boats, state television reported.

From the province of Hebei in the north to Anhui in the east, many motorists were trapped in their cars as engines stalled on waterlogged roads, state television footage showed this week.

In the past month, China has grappled with extreme weather from heatwaves to historic floods, with meteorologists blaming climate change and also the first typhoon of the season, Chaba.

Alerts for flood risks were also issued in Jilin province, north of Liaoning.

In Yanji, a Jilin city on the border with North Korea, a man was hailed for his bravery on social media after he dived into a raging river to rescue his wife despite not knowing how to swim, footage from state-run Xinhua news agency showed.

The two sustained some scrapes but suffered no severe injuries.

"I swear in my next life, I'll still marry him," the wife said in the footage, smiling.

Over the next 12 hours, flood-swollen rivers were expected to inundate farmland and urban areas in the cities of Changchun and Siping.

Liaoning and Jilin are expected to see more heavy downpours in the next two days before the rains start to dissipate.

SOURCE: Reuters

 

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Regional

Cop martyred in KP grenade blast 

The injured have been shifted to the nearby hospital.

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Cop martyred in KP grenade blast 

Peshawar: In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one police personnel was martyred while four others including two citizens got severely injured in a hand grenade blast on a Police check post in Mardan on Thursday.

According to Rescue 1122, the injured have been shifted to the nearby hospital.

Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan has strongly condemned the incident and sought a report in this regard from the Police authorities.

He directed the authorities concerned to take necessary steps for immediate arrest of the culprits involved in the incident.

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Business

Nepra notifies Rs7.90 per unit hike in electricity tariff

The people will be burdened with more than Rs 113 billion

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Nepra notifies Rs7.90 per unit hike in electricity tariff

Islamabad: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) on Thursday notified Rs7.90 per unit increase in power tariff.

The increase in electricity prices by NEPRA was made in the context of the fuel adjustment for the month of May which will be collected in next month's bills. The people will be burdened with more than Rs 113 billion.

The increase will put an additional burden of Rs113 billion on the consumers of 10 power distribution companies. 

However, the notification will not apply to lifeline and Karachi-Electric (KE) consumers.  

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