update: The newly freed and now on the move Iran-flagged Adrian Darya, previously the detained Grace 1, is expected to head to Kalamata, Greece, with an arrival date of Aug. 25.
However, after a Gibraltar court twice rejected a formal US request to halt the vessel’s movement, and with a US seizure warrant still active, the US has now put the government of Greece on notice, reportedly informing Athens of its “strong position” regarding foreign states providing assistance the Iranian oil-laden tanker.
A US Statement Department statement issued Monday evening said Greece’s help could be considered as “providing material support to a US-designated foreign terrorist organization” — this according to a State Department official speaking to Reuters.
US Department of State: Any assistance from Greece to the Iranian oil tanker can be considered as support for a foreign terrorist organization according to the American classification#Iran #Greece #US
— CNW (@ConflictsW) August 19, 2019
The Iranian tanker’s planned route, according to declared tracking data is as follows:
The tanker's AIS is now saying that it'll arrive in Kalamata on August 26th. Our analysis is that she'll be avoiding EU waters and not even enter Greece, but most likely offload a million barrels onto an empty Iranian-flagged Suezmax in order to continue back to Iran via Suez. pic.twitter.com/ly9R4oprp9
— TankerTrackers.com, Inc.⚓️🛢 (@TankerTrackers) August 19, 2019
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With the Grace 1 now released after two failed attempts of Washington to bring the Iranian tanker under US custody, since renamed the Adrian Darya and flying the Iranian flag, Tehran officials are still refusing to confirm its ultimate destination where it will offload its 2.1 million barrels of oil.
On Monday Iran’s foreign ministry issued new warnings to the United States not to mount any new attempt to seize the tanker. “If this is done or even stated, it is a threat to free shipping,” a spokesman said. “Through its official channels, and especially the Swiss embassy, Iran has warned U.S. officials not to make the mistake of doing so, as they face bad consequences.”
….and there she goes! After 46 days in Gibraltar Waters sparking an international incident with Iran, the Adrian Darya, formerly the Grace 1, is leaving… pic.twitter.com/IdxWFgVBwm
— GBC News (@GBCNewsroom) August 18, 2019
Per a breaking Bloomberg report, Iran issued a formal warning to the US via Switzerland to not interfere with the ship’s passage through international waters.
Furthermore, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said at a press conference in Helsinki while attending diplomatic meetings in Finland that Iran cannot be “very transparent” about the tanker’s destination due to US sanctions.
He said the US is trying “bully others from purchasing our oil” but expressed hope the Gibraltar court’s release of the tanker would serve to deescalate tensions, according to Bloomberg.
The Adrian Darya’s shipping tracking data shows it intends to head to Kalamata, Greece, with an arrival date of Aug. 25, according to reports, where it’s likely to change crew and get fresh supplies.
A senior Greek merchant marine ministry official was quoted in the WSJ as saying, “We’ve been informed of the ship’s possible call in Kalamata, but it’s not there yet and we don’t know whether or when it will arrive. There have been no instructions by the foreign ministry or any other government authority to hold the tanker or take any other action so far.”
Iranian officials over the weekend had broached the idea of sending a naval escort, something believed unlikely to happen. A top naval commander was cited in semi-official Mehr news agency as saying, “We have no intention of sending a flotilla to Gibraltar, but we are ready to do so to escort the Grace 1 back to Iran’s territorial waters.”
Concerning its ultimate destination and crude offload point, we previously noted that though Iranian officials have from the beginning claimed that Syria was not the tanker’s ultimate destination, it’s a move that’s not completely out of the question, given Iran’s growing boldness over the summer in capturing tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, including the still IRGC-detained British-flagged Stena Impero.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.