Athens won’t aid Iranian tanker, minister says

Athens won’t aid Iranian tanker, minister says

As an Iranian oil tanker which Washington wants seized heads toward Greece, officials Wednesday indicated that Athens would not help the ship reach Syria while seeking to play down the prospects of such a development.

In comments to ANT1 TV Wednesday, Alternate Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said Greece has “sent out a clear message, that there is no way we want to facilitate the transfer of oil to Syria.” “We don’t want to facilitate the course of that ship toward Syria,” he said.

He added that the vessel, the Adrian Darya 1, was too big to dock at any Greek port. If it were to enter Greek territorial waters, Greek authorities would respond accordingly, he said, without elaborating. “There is no way that Greece wants to affect its relationship with the US, with which it has a close cooperation,” he added.

Varvitsiotis said the US had been in contact with authorities in Athens, pressing them not to aid the vessel. He added that the Iranian government had not sent any request for the vessel to dock in Greece, noting that the port of Kalamata has been mentioned only in shipping tracking data.

Late on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US will take every action it can to prevent the tanker from delivering oil to Syria in contravention of US sanctions.

“We have made clear that anyone who touches it, anyone who supports it, anyone who allows a ship to dock is at risk of receiving sanctions from the United States,” Pompeo said. He added that if the tanker’s oil was sold, the revenue would be used by elite units of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which the US has designated a terrorist organization.

The Adrian Darya 1 was released from detention off the British territory of Gibraltar on Sunday, and is expected to arrive at 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 on receiving reassurances from Iran that the oil delivery would not violate EU sanctions, a federal court in Washington ordered its seizure amid suspicions that it was linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

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