In what could be first major foreign policy challenge for Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis since he took office last month, an Iranian tanker that was released from detention off the British territory of Gibraltar on Sunday is reportedly heading toward the port of Kalamata in southern Greece.
The Grace 1, renamed the Adrian Darya 1, is, according to ship tracking data, expected to arrive in Kalamata this Sunday.
Until Monday evening Greek media said that port authorities in Kalamata had received no formal request from the owner of the tanker to dock there.
At the same time, sources cited in Greek media said the matter is being closely monitored by the Greek Foreign and Shipping ministries.
The same sources also noted that many things could transpire before the tanker’s expected arrival in Kalamata and cast doubt that it may ever do so – given that the port lacks the necessary infrastructure to dock such a vessel.
Gibraltar authorities had decided to end the detention of the tanker last Thursday. However, on Friday a federal court in Washington issued a warrant for tanker’s seizure.
Gibraltar said on Sunday that it was bound by European Union law and could not comply with the American request.
Washington wanted the tanker’s seizure on the grounds that it was linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – designated a terrorist organization by the US.
For its part, Tehran issued an ominous warning Monday saying that any US move to seize the vessel again would have “heavy consequences.”
The tanker, carrying about 2 million barrels of oil valued at tens of millions of US dollars, had been seized on July 4 by the British Royal Marines near Gibraltar on suspicion of transporting oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.
The vessel’s seizure had led to a protracted standoff that lasted more than a month between Tehran and Western countries.
It also sparked a period of heightened tensions on international oil shipping routes through the Gulf.