Iran says Greece's move in hindering vessel from sailing violates intl. standards

May 25, 2022 - 18:54

TEHRAN - Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon about the arrest of an Iranian cargo vessel in Greek waters, describing the move as an act of piracy and violation of international standards.

The PMO asked the Greek government to fulfill its international obligations and immediately release the vessel.

Following is the text of the statement:

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) as the duly authorized maritime administration of the Islamic Republic of Iran reacted against the actions of the Greek Government as to hindering the Iranian vessel from sailing and arresting her cargo, and urged the Greek Government to fulfill its international obligations.

According to PMO's official website, a tanker vessel operating under the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been held by the Greek Government on the coasts of that country, and the cargo on board the vessel has been arrested through a court order and in coordination with the U.S. Government. This is while the vessel had been forced to seek a place of safety at the Greek coasts, in order to ensure safety of the vessel and the crew on board. Unfortunately, no cooperation or assistance has been provided to the vessel from the Greek authorities, while the military forces of that country have proceeded to discharge to cargo, which can be construed as a vivid instance of piracy.

The vessel had faced bad weather conditions, and experienced a number of technical problems, which led the vessel to call for assistance. Under international and technical regulations and standards, the State with the nearest coastline to the vessel calling for assistance due to safety threats should cooperate by guiding the vessel to a place of safety. The vessel can then take the required measures to resolve any technical problems and resume her international voyage once the danger has been completely eliminated.

While Greece has undertaken such international obligations, and is responsible toward the Islamic Republic of Iran as a Member State of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), such unacceptable measures have unfortunately been taken by the Greek Government, toward a vessel in need of being transferred to a place of safety, experiencing technical problems, and facing bad weather conditions. Hence, the vessel has been held under a court order, and the oil cargo of the vessel arrested.

In reaction to such measures, the IMO Secretary-General and the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have repeatedly and emphatically urged the Greek Government to allow the vessel to proceed with her journey, once the safety threats have been eliminated. Despite the above requests and pursuits of the matter, however, the Greek Government has still failed to cooperate accordingly, and take the requested measures.

It must be noted that since last night, when the cargo was arrested through the mentioned court order, U.S. Forces have commenced to discharge the cargo on board the vessel, and due to technical problems of the vessel, such unsafe discharge could easily result in an oil spill and pollution of the marine environment. Thus, the Greek Government is being repeatedly urged to fulfill its international obligations, and cease such perilous and high-risk actions that threaten the marine environment, especially within the Greek waters.

According to international regulations approved by IMO regarding safety of lives at sea, all countries are required to provide assistance to vessels in distress near their coastlines, until the danger is resolved, and safety of the vessel and people on board can be guaranteed, while any necessary repairs and facilities should be provided to achieve or facilitate the above.

Moreover, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) has also stipulated limitations for bunker operations or any other activities that pose the risk of pollution to the marine environment. The Greek Government, nevertheless, has been acting in full violation and negligence of these provisions as well.

In conclusion, it must be noted that the Greek Government has not only hindered the commercial voyage of the vessel, which is among its responsibilities as per international standards, but has also violated regulations pertaining to marine environment protection, as well as its obligations toward countries, whose vessels may need safety assistance. It is therefore obvious that the Greek coasts cannot be considered as safe havens for vessels in distress anymore!   

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