AN Iranian tanker released from Gibraltar last month on the condition that it would not head for Syria has been spotted just off the country’s coast.
The Adrian Darya-1 was seized with the aid of British forces in July, suspected of ferrying oil to the Assad regime in breach of EU sanctions.
Satellite images show the Adrian Darya-1, released from Gibraltar last month on condition that it would not travel to Syria, two miles off the country’s coast[/caption]
The ship was seized in July on suspicion of ferrying oil to the Assad regime in breach of EU sanctions[/caption]
It was released on August 18 and claimed it was heading for the Kalamata port in Greece, a port too small to accommodate a ship of that size.
Five days later, on August 23, it changed course towards the Turkish port of Mersin, just 150 kilometres from Turkey’s border with Syria, and on Monday night turned off its automatic tracking system.
Satellite images have now shown the vessel just two nautical miles off the port city of Tartus on Syria’s Mediterranean coast.
The United States has been attempting to seize the ship as part of sanctions targeting the Iranian energy industry, imposed because of concerns in Washington about Iran’s nuclear programme.
The move followed a pattern of Iranian oil tankers turning off their tracking systems so as to hide the destination of their cargo.
The US has alleged that the Adrian Darya-1 is owned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces tasked with protecting the country’s regime from outside interference and considered a terrorist organisation by the US.
‘US SANCTIONS WILL CONTINUE’
The satellite images were obtained by the Associated Press from space technology firm Maxar Technologies.
The ship was carrying 2.1 million barrels of crude oil worth around £108 million ($130 million) when it was released from Gibraltar.
John Bolton, a national security adviser to President Trump famously hawkish towards Iran, tweeted the satellite images on Friday.
“Anyone who said the Adrian Darya-1 wasn’t headed to #Syria is in denial,” he wrote.
“Tehran thinks it’s more important to fund the murderous Assad regime than provide for its own people.
“We can talk, but #Iran’s not getting any sanctions relief until it stops lying and spreading terror!”
The UK’s Foreign Office said in a statement that reports about the ship’s location were “deeply troubling”, and that for Iran to renege on its assurances would be a “violation of international norms and a morally bankrupt course of action”.
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July saw a tense diplomatic stand off between Britain and Iran after Iran responded to the detainment of Adrian Darya-1, then called Grace-1, by seizing a British tanker as it passed through the Persian Gulf.
The British ship, Stena Impero, remains detained in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, though on Wednesday Iran announced it would release seven of the 23 crew members still on board.
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