August 21, 2019

US warns Greece not to give safe harbour to Iranian tanker
The US has warned Greece that it risks facing American sanctions if it gives safe harbour to Iran’s Grace 1 oil tanker, in the latest standoff between the US and EU over the ship’s fate.  The Iranian oil tanker left Gibraltar over the weekend after a month in British detention and is now heading towards the Greek port of Kalamata.  "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,” said Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state.  The Grace 1, now renamed the Adrian Darya 1, has not officially confirmed it is heading to Greece and the Greek government said it was monitoring the situation. "The vessel is cruising at low speed and there is still no formal announcement that it will arrive at Kalamata. The Merchant Marine Ministry is monitoring the matter along with Greece's Foreign Ministry," a Greek Shipping Ministry spokesman said. If it does seek to dock at Kalamata, the Greek government will face a choice between turning it away and risking US sanctions. The US said it had conveyed its “strong position” to Athens.  The US government says the ship and its 2 million barrels of oil are being used to support Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which Washington considers a terrorist group. Mike Pompeo warned Greece not to accept the tanker Credit: JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images The Trump administration made a failed attempt to get Gibraltar to further detain the ship but the British territories said it had no legal grounds to do so and so let the tanker sail.  The EU has not designated the Guard as a terror group and EU states say they will only move against the ship if it attempts to carry its oil to Syria, which is under European sanctions.  Iran is unlikely to release the Stena Impero, a British-flagged tanker it seized in July, until it has reassurances that the Grace 1 is not in danger of interception by the US.  Iran initially indicated that the Stena Impero had been seized in retaliation for the Grace 1 but now claims that the ship violated maritime rules in the Persian Gulf.  Mohammad Rastad, Iran’s deputy transport minister, said a court in the southern port of Bandar Abbas would rule on the ship's fate but no court date has been announced.
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