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US will act if Iranian tanker tries to deliver oil to Syria: Pompeo

File photo of US State Secretary Mike Pompeo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters United States/Athens Aug 21, 2019, 06.49 AM (IST)

The United States will take every action it can to prevent an Iranian tanker sailing in the Mediterranean from delivering oil to Syria in contravention of US sanctions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Tuesday.

Greece said earlier in the day that it had not had a request from the Adrian Darya 1, the vessel at the centre of a dispute between Iran and the United States, to dock at one of its ports, as Washington warned Greece against helping the vessel.

The tanker, formerly called Grace 1, left Gibraltar on Sunday. Ship-tracking data on Tuesday showed the vessel was heading toward the Greek port of Kalamata on the southern coast of the Peloponnese and was scheduled to arrive next Monday.

"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," Pompeo told reporters at the United Nations.

"If that ship again heads to Syria, we will take every action we can consistent with those sanctions to prevent that."

He said that if the tanker's oil was sold, the revenue would be used by elite units of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. "We want to deny them the resources to continue their horrific terror campaign," Pompeo said.

The tanker is carrying about 2 million barrels of oil.

"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.

The ship, which is now sailing under an Iranian flag, was released from detention off Gibraltar after a five-week standoff over whether it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

Soon after the detention order was lifted, a US federal court ordered the seizure of the vessel on different grounds, but that petition was rejected by Gibraltar.

Tehran said any US move to seize the vessel again would have "heavy consequences". The United States, in turn, has also conveyed its "strong position" to the Greek government over the tanker.

Washington wants the tanker detained on the grounds that it had links to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, which it has designated a terrorist organisation.

The European Union, of which Greece is a member, bans oil sales to Syria and the United States has sanctions on Iranian oil sales.

Story highlights

Greece said earlier in the day that it had not had a request from the Adrian Darya 1, the vessel at the centre of a dispute between Iran and the United States, to dock at one of its ports, as Washington warned Greece against helping the vessel.