Greece promises US it won't help an Iranian oil tanker reach Syria

Key Points
  • Grace 1 was seized on July 4 by the British overseas territory who accused it of breaking EU sanctions.
  • A court in Gibraltar officially released the Iranian oil tanker last week and it sailed Monday.
  • Under its new name,  Adrian Darya 1, the ship now appears to be headed for the Greek port of Kalamata.
An Iranian flag flutters on board the Adrian Darya oil tanker, formerly known as Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar on August 18, 2019.
JOHNNY BUGEJA | AFP | Getty Images

After urgent prompting by the U.S, Greece confirmed it won't help an Iranian oil tanker headed east in the Mediterranean Sea to deliver oil to Syria.

On July 4, Gibraltar authorities with the help of the British Royal Marines, seized the Grace 1 oil tanker following suspicions it was delivering oil to the Syrian regime — a violation of EU sanctions.

Gibraltar is a U.K. overseas territory at the southern tip of Spain that sits at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea.

U.S. authorities attempted to seize the tanker before it left Gibraltar Monday, claiming that it has links Iran's Revolutionary Guard — an outfit that has been designated a terrorist organization by Washington.

However, authorities in Gibraltar released the tanker and the ship sailed under its new name of Adrian Darya 1. According to various website trackers, it's carrying 2 million barrels of crude, flying under an Iranian flag and set to arrive at the Greek port of Kalamata on Monday August 26.

Syria, which is subject to international sanctions, sits on the Mediterranean Sea roughly 900 miles further east of Kalamata.

According to a Greek television report, translated by Reuters, Greece's Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, said Greece wouldn't provide any docking assistance.

"We have sent a clear message that we would not want to facilitate the trafficking of this oil to Syria in any instance," he told ANT1 television.

Varvitsiotis added that Greece did not have a port capable of docking such a large oil tanker but remained evasive on what, if any, action would be taken if the ship dropped anchor in Greek waters.

"In that case we will see what will happen," he added.