Greek authorities are on alert amid reports that an Iranian fuel tanker which Washington wants seized and is believed to be headed toward the port of Kalamata is planning to transfer its cargo to another vessel off Greece in the coming days, Kathimerini understands.
The transfer of some 2.1 million barrels of oil being carried by the Adrian Darya 1 to another vessel is possible, weather permitting, according to experts. However, such a development in Greek territorial waters would create a diplomatic headache for Athens, posing the first major foreign policy challenge to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis since his election in July.
In comments to Skai TV on Tuesday, Shipping Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis said Greek authorities had received no formal docking request by the Adrian Darya 1, which, according to shipping tracking data, is scheduled to reach Kalamata on Sunday.
Meanwhile diplomatic sources said that the Greek Foreign Ministry was “closely monitoring the issue” and was in contact with the US “via diplomatic channels.”
Earlier, a State Department official said Washington had conveyed its “strong position” to the Greek government about the Iranian tanker. Any efforts to assist the tanker could be viewed as providing material support to a US-designated foreign terrorist organization, the official said.
That position was reiterated by an official of the US Embassy in Athens, who said that any assistance would be tantamount to aiding terrorists and as such would carry consequences.
A Greek diplomatic source said that Washington’s positions on the issue had been conveyed not only to Greece but to other states and the ports in the Mediterranean.
The Adrian Darya 1, renamed from the Grace 1, was released from detention off the British territory of Gibraltar on Sunday, and is expected to arrive at the port of Kalamata this Sunday.
The vessel was initially seized by the British Royal Marines in July on suspicion that was shipping oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.
After Gibraltar ended the ship’s detention last week, a court in Washington ordered its seizure amid suspicions that it was linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a terrorist organization, according to the US.