Iran gave a stark warning to the USA on Monday over further attempts to seize the Iranian oil tanker that set sail on Sunday, after it spent six weeks detained in Gibraltar.
"This is a VLCC, a very large crude carrier ..."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Tuesday that the United States would take every action it could to prevent the tanker sailing in the Mediterranean from delivering oil to Syria in contravention of USA sanctions.
Iranian officials have said a new crew had arrived to pilot the vessel - now renamed the Adrian Darya 1.
The Iran-flagged supertanker that left port in Gibraltar has reportedly been leased out to the country's Revolutionary Guards, which is seen as an apparent show of defiance to the USA that tried to seize the vessel because of its ties to the elite group designated by the Trump administration a terrorist organization. Tehran issued a warning that any move by Washington to detain the ship containing two million barrels of oil would have "heavy consequences".
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The United States has conveyed a "strong position" regarding any assistance to the now notorious Iranian tanker Grace 1, which left Gibraltar yesterday and is heading to Greece. "The Merchant Marine Ministry is monitoring the matter along with Greece's Foreign Ministry", a Greek Shipping Ministry spokesman said. It changed the name on Sunday and hoisted an Iranian flag.
It is the second such Iranian breakdown in recent months after the tanker Happiness 1 was forced to seek repairs in the Saudi port of Jeddah that reportedly cost the Islamic republic $10 million.
Speculation has mounted that the Stena Impero could be freed once the Adrian Darya 1 had set sail, although Iranian officials have denied any link between the two cases.
Varvitsiotis said the Iranian government had not been in touch with Greek authorities.
But Iran has itself contradicted that claim, later making clear that the capture of the Impero was retaliation for the Gibraltar operation.
Experts have warned that a crisis in the critical Strait of Hormuz could endanger the world's oil supply.