As the price of gas in the United States rises, a Greek oil tanker that was seized by Iran holds tens of thousands of gallons of oil worth more than $100 million that were headed to Texas, according to an administration official and a former administration official.
In late May, the tanker Prudent Warrior was traveling from Iraq to the U.S., according to the officials, when Iran seized it in international waters in the Persian Gulf and led it into Iranian territorial waters.
“We have no comment on the destination of the ship or the oil. And we have no comment on our diplomatic engagements,” a Department of State spokesperson said, adding that Washington condemned the Revolutionary Guard’s May 27 seizure of the two Greek-flagged vessels. “The United States continues to stand with Greece, our key NATO ally and partner in the face of this unjustified seizure.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei confirmed that the Iranian military seized the two tankers, the Prudent Warrior and the Delta Poseidon, by launching forces from helicopters in the Persian Gulf. He said Iran confiscated the tankers in retaliation for Greece helping the U.S. seize an Iranian-flagged tanker with crude oil in the Mediterranean Sea in April.
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 U.S. later confiscated the Iranian oil cargo held onboard, according to Reuters.
On Wednesday, a Greek court reportedly reversed the decision that allowed the U.S. to confiscate the oil.
Experts say the oil on each tanker seized by Iran is worth well over $100 million.
The seizures come as tensions between the U.S and Iran continue to escalate as hopes of reinvigorating the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran fade. Negotiations are at a standstill while Tehran continues to enrich uranium closer to weapons-grade level. On Thursday, the U.N. atomic watchdog agency said Iran had started to remove 27 monitoring cameras that are supposed to track nuclear work, calling the move a potentially “fatal blow” for salvaging the deal.
Attacks against bases housing U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Syria are also increasing, with as many attacks in May as the three previous months combined. There were seven attacks in May, up from three in April, three in March and one in February. No Americans have been killed in these incidents.
Iran's mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.