The Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya, suspected of transporting crude oil in Syria and whose US wants the boarding, is "too big" to enter a Greek port, said Wednesday the Greek Deputy Foreign Minister, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis.
"The VLCC (very large crude oil carrier), carrying 130,000 tonnes of oil and pointing to Kalamata as a destination, is too big to drop anchor in a Greek port," said Mr Varvitsiotis, in charge of in an interview with the Greek private television channel ANT1.
"If he goes into Greek waters, he can only anchor offshore and then we will examine the situation," he said.
Athens "does not wish in any way to facilitate the transport of oil in Syria," insisted the minister, pointing out that the Greek authorities had been "under pressure" from the United States. "There have been specific messages from the US authorities," who want the tanker to be boarded again.
The minister spoke of the importance of "security in the Arabian Sea and the Strait of Hormuz", connecting the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, where "many Greek ships carry crude".
Greek shipowners own the world's largest commercial fleet.
Immobilized since July 4 off Gibraltar, this ship had sailed on Sunday to Kalamata, located in the south of the Peloponnese peninsula, 250 km from Athens. According to the Maritime Traffic monitoring website, it was Wednesday off Oran (Algeria), sailing very slowly, at a speed of 7.5 knots.
"If it does not change the route", which remains possible according to the Greek minister, it will not arrive in Kalamata until Monday, August 26, according to media reports.
Following a "judicial decision" last week, the tanker was allowed to leave Gibraltar "because there were no indications of violation of the European regulations on the transport of Iranian oil", explained Miltiadis Varvitsiotis.
On Tuesday, the Greek authorities said they have not yet received an "official request" from the oil tanker to drop anchor in Kalamata.
The case raises concerns in Greece, some media calling it a "crash test" for the right-wing government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, formed less than two months ago.
The new Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias has already visited Washington after the legislative elections on 7 July and his American counterpart is expected in Athens in the autumn, according to Miltiadis Varvitsiotis.
"The United States has decided to exercise a very harsh policy vis-à-vis Iran, a policy very different from the EU and this concerns and affects the relations between the two partners and traditional friends", a- he estimated.
Gibraltar had boarded the tanker, suspected of carrying oil to Syria, in application of the European sanctions against that country. He was cleared Thursday to leave when Tehran assured that the cargo would not be delivered to Syria.
But Washington wants the tanker to be boarded again, a possibility that would have "serious consequences" according to Tehran.
© 2019 AFP