Minister says Iran tanker too big to dock at Greek port

The Greek junior foreign minister said it was a very large crude carrier that won’t fit in the port. (File/AFP)
Updated 21 August 2019

Minister says Iran tanker too big to dock at Greek port

  • Greek finance minister says that at 130,000 tons the tanker is too big for any Greek port
  • It is thought the tanker will reach Kalamata by Monday, but will not be allowed in

ATHENS: 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.
“This is a very large crude carrier, it is over 130,000 tons... It cannot access any Greek dock,” junior foreign minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis told Ant1 TV.
Varvitsiotis said the Greek government had “faced pressure” by US authorities over the vessel but insisted that Athens “has sent a clear message that we would not wish to facilitate the transport of this oil to Syria under any circumstances.”
Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, seized the tanker on July 4 on suspicion it was transporting oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions, triggering a sharp deterioration in relations between Tehran and London. Iran has repeatedly denied any violations.
Varvitsiotis said Athens 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.
The website Marine Traffic, which earlier this week gave the ship’s reported destination as the Greek port of Kalamata, had placed the supertanker carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil some 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest 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,” adding: “It could drop anchor somewhere” else.
Gibraltar’s Supreme Court ordered the tanker released last Thursday, with Iranian officials saying a new crew had arrived to pilot the vessel.


Hong Kong reopens after violent weekend of clashes and protests

Updated 2 min 39 sec ago

Hong Kong reopens after violent weekend of clashes and protests

  • Thousands of anti-government protesters engaged in cat-and-mouse tactics with police on Sunday
  • Police issued a statement expressing ‘severe condemnation’ after the peaceful protest spiraled into violence
HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s businesses and underground rail stations re-opened as usual on Monday morning, after a chaotic Sunday that saw police fire water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who blocked roads and threw petrol bombs outside government headquarters.
Thousands of anti-government protesters, many clad in black masks, caps and shades to obscure their identity, had raced through the streets, engaged in cat-and-mouse tactics with police, setting street fires and blocking roads in the heart of the former British colony where many key business districts are located.
Authorities moved quickly to douse the fires and police fired volleys of tear gas to disperse them, including in the bustling shopping and tourist district of Causeway Bay.
Police issued a statement early on Monday expressing “severe condemnation” after what began as a mostly peaceful protest had spiraled into violence in some of the Chinese territory’s key business, shopping and tourist districts.
Around 20 “radical protesters” had attacked two police officers on Sunday evening, hurling petrol bombs, bricks, and threatening the safety of the officers, the statement said.
The demonstrations were the latest in over three months of sometimes violent protests, with protesters angered by what they see as creeping interference by Beijing in Hong Kong’s affairs despite promises by Beijing to grant the city wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms denied in mainland China.
The initial trigger for the protests was a contentious extradition bill, now withdrawn, that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial.
The protests have since broadened into other demands including universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into allegations of excessive force by the police.
At least 18 people were injured, three of them seriously, during Sunday’s violence, according to the Hospital Authority.
Nearly 1,400 people have been arrested since the protests started in June, but police gave no update on the number arrested over the weekend.
The protests have weighed on the city’s economy as it faces its first recession in a decade, with tourist arrivals plunging 40 percent in August amid some disruptions at the city’s international airport.
By Sunday evening, the running battles between anti-government protesters and police had spilled into street brawls between rival groups in the districts of Fortress Hill and North Point further east on Hong Kong island, where men in white T-shirts, believed to be pro-Beijing supporters, some wielding hammers, rods and knives, clashed with anti-government activists.
On a street close to North Point, home to a large pro-Beijing community, a Reuters witness saw one man in a white T-shirt sprawled on the ground with head wounds.
Hong Kong media reported that groups of pro-Beijing supporters had attacked journalists.
Police eventually intervened and sealed off some roads to try to restore order, and they were seen taking away several men and women from an office run by a pro-Beijing association.
Democratic lawmaker Ted Hui was arrested for allegedly obstructing the police, according to his Democratic Party’s Facebook page, as he tried to mediate on the streets in North Point.