Greece blocks Iranian oil ship freed in Gibraltar

Iran warns U.S. against seizing oil tanker released by Gibraltar 
Adrian Darya 1


Greece has vowed to refuse help to an Iranian ship that was recently detained in Gibraltar on suspicion of carrying oil bound for Syria days after the U.S. threatened sanctions on any country that offered aid to the tanker believed to be linked to an Iranian terrorist organisation.

The ship is sailing through Mediterranean waters with 2 million barrels of crude oil.

Deputy foreign minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis told broadcaster ANT1 Greece was “not willing to facilitate the course of this ship to Syria” and pointed out the tanker’s load was too large for any Greek port to accommodate, BBC News reported.

The Iran-flagged Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1, is carrying $130 million worth of light crude oil, according to the U.S.

The U.S. believes the tanker has ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, a branch of the Middle Eastern nation’s armed forces that the U.S. deemed a terrorist organization.

The U.S. said the ship has plans to deliever its cargo to Syria, which would directly violate U.S. sanctions, BBC News reported.

The ship left Gibraltar Sunday after being detained for a month. Gibraltar rejected a last-minute attempt by the U.S. to seize the oil tanker again, arguing that EU regulations are less strict than U.S. sanctions on Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the international community against assisting the Iranians in smuggling oil.

Adrian Darya 1 was heading east in the Mediterranean Sea Monday with its next destination reported to be Kalamata, Greece.

The ship is expected to arrive at the Greek port next Sunday, according to ship-tracking service MarineTraffic. It was unclear why the tanker would be heading there or whether the destination could change.

Tehran said any U.S. attempt to seize the tanker would have “heavy consequences,” according to Reuters. Commander of Navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Alireza Tangsiri told the Iranian News Agency “the Adrian Darya vessel needs no escort.”

Tangsiri added that the ship is “Korean-made” and owned by Russia. The U.S. argued in unsealed court documents that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the ship’s true owners through a network of front companies.

The chief minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, said he had been assured in writing by the Iranian government that the tanker wouldn’t unload its cargo in Syria.

The Iranian ship was detained while sailing under a Panamanian flag with the name Grace 1. It changed the name on Sunday and hoisted an Iranian flag.