Iran tanker too big to dock at Greek port: minister

An Iranian tanker that has sparked a diplomatic row pitting Tehran against Washington and London is too big to dock in Greece, the country's junior foreign minister said Wednesday (August 21st).

"This is a very large crude carrier, it is over 130,000 tonnes... It cannot access any Greek dock," junior foreign minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis told Ant1 TV.

British Royal Marines seized the ship on July 4th off British territory Gibraltar on suspicion it was transporting oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions. Iran has repeatedly denied any violations.

Varvitsiotis said Athens "has sent a clear message that we would not wish to facilitate the transport of this oil to Syria under any circumstances".

He said his government was not in contact with Tehran over the tanker, which was originally called Grace 1 but has been renamed the Adrian Darya, and had received no request from Iran, AFP reported.

The website Marine Traffic, which earlier this week gave the ship's reported destination as the Greek port of Kalamata, had placed the supertanker some 100 kilometres north-west of the Algerian port of Oran.

The maritime tracker says the tanker is expected to arrive in Kalamata on Monday, but Varvitsiotis suggested it may not dock in Greek waters at all.

"It has named Kalamata as its port of destination but this doesn't mean anything," he said, adding: "It could drop anchor somewhere" else.

"It could unload the oil at any non-EU refinery. It could head south" to North Africa, he added.

Gibraltar's Supreme Court ordered the tanker released last Thursday, with Iranian officials saying a new crew had arrived to pilot the vessel.

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