US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that his country would take all measures to prevent an Iranian oil tanker from delivering its cargo to Syria, while Greece said the tanker had not asked for a port after it was released by Gibraltar authorities last weekend.
"We have made it clear that anyone who touches it, anyone who supports it, anyone who allows a ship to dock, is at risk of sanctions from the United States," Pompeo told reporters.
"If that ship goes back to Syria, we will take all possible measures consistent with those sanctions to prevent that."
The Iranian tanker "Adrian Daria 1", known as "Grace 1", left Gibraltar on Sunday after flying the Iranian flag instead of Panama. The vessel was heading to the southern Greek port of Kalamata and was due to arrive on Monday, August 26, tracing data showed on Tuesday.
However, Greek Maritime Trade Minister Ioannis Plakyotakis said yesterday that the Iranian tanker had not asked for a berth at any Greek port, adding that he was following up with the Greek Foreign Ministry.
The minister's statement came in response to questions about information reported by the website specialized in tracking the movement of ships "Marine Traffic", according to which the Iranian tanker was about 100 kilometers from the coast northwest of the Algerian city of Oran.
The official Athens News Agency quoted a Greek diplomatic source as saying that his country was in contact with the United States regarding the Iranian carrier, without saying what action Athens would take.
The United States has already announced that it had conveyed its "strong position" to the Greek government over the Iranian tanker, which carries about two million barrels of oil. Washington wants to seize the tanker on the grounds that it has links to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which America classifies as terrorist organizations.
Authorities in the British island of Gibraltar had released the ship, which was being held off its coast, after a five-week crisis over whether to transport Iranian oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Gibraltar authorities have rejected a request from the US Justice Department to detain the Iranian tanker again on charges of violating US sanctions against Tehran.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said his country had warned Washington, through the Swiss embassy in Tehran, of the consequences of being described as dire if the oil tanker were stopped. He added in a press statement that any US action to stop the tanker is a threat to the security of navigation in international waters.
In a related context, quoted "Fox" American intelligence sources that a tanker loaded with Iranian oil bound for Syria will stop in Dubai to refuel, in violation of US sanctions against Damascus.
The sources told the channel that the tanker, named "Bonita Queen", was loaded on August 2, about 600 thousand barrels on the island of Kharj, Iran.
She explained that the tanker will unload its cargo in two Syrian ships bearing the name of "Kader" and "Jasmine" in the Mediterranean after its departure from Dubai on a journey takes months, where it will pass the Horn of Africa to the Mediterranean.