Since its release about two weeks ago in Gibraltar, the "Adrian Darya-1" is crossing the Mediterranean to the east. According to the location data of the website "Marine Traffic", the Iranian oil tanker is currently off the Turkish coast. Destination unknown. Washington has now sanctioned the ship and its captain so that the oil does not fall into the wrong hands from the US point of view.
By taking this step, the US government could impose sanctions on harbors or companies engaging in deals with the supertanker.
According to US data, the freighter is in the service of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which are classified by Washington as a terrorist organization. The ship has been in the Mediterranean Sea since mid-August and has not been able to call at any port - not least due to pressure from the US government.
Ship on the way to Syria?
"This should be a lesson to anyone trying to help send Iranian oil to the murderous Assad regime," said US Secretary of National Security Donald Trump, John Bolton, on Twitter on sanctions against the ship and Captain Akhilesh Kumar. According to the US Department of the Treasury, "Adrian Darya-1" is carrying 2.1 million barrels of crude oil, "which will ultimately benefit the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Al-Kuds unit."
The ship had been detained for more than six weeks in Gibraltar on charges of undermining the EU embargo on Syria. The Supreme Court of the British Overseas Territory at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula finally freed the tanker. Iran wants to have already sold the oil, which the tanker has loaded, according to own data.
The United Kingdom set the tanker loaded with Iranian oil at the beginning of July, as it wanted to deliver oil to Syria, contrary to EU sanctions. The move led to a long dispute with Iran. While the "Adrian Darya-1" is leaving again, the British tanker "Stena Impero" will probably still be held by Iran.
Nazanin Tabatabaee / WANA (Western Asia News Agency) via REUTERS
Detained "Stena Impero": pawn for the Adrian Darya-1 "?
The "Stena Impero" had been declared a few days after confiscation of the "Adrian Darya-1". Iran denies a connection - it accuses the occupation of offenses, which should now investigate a court. Observers in Tehran had speculated that if their own ship were back in the country, it could ultimately lead to an exchange of both ships.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected this. He spoke of "reliable information", according to which the tanker now goes to the Syrian port of Tartus - and although Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Sarif has guaranteed that the ship will not head for Syria. "I hope it changes course," wrote Pompeo on Twitter. "It was a big mistake to trust Sarif."