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Saturday 31 August 2019

US Blacklists Released Iranian Tanker

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WASHINGTON (TASS) — The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has included Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1, earlier detained and released by Gibraltar, into its sanctions blacklist, the department said in a statement. The ship’s captain, a citizen of India identified as Akhilesh Kumar, was also blacklisted.

According to the Department of the Treasury, the tanker was transporting 2.1 mln barrels of Iranian crude, “ultimately benefiting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force.” The sanctions were imposed pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which “targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorism or acts of terrorism.”

“Vessels like the Adrian Darya 1 enable the IRGC-QF to ship and transfer large volumes of oil, which they attempt to mask and sell illicitly to fund the regime’s malign activities and propagate terrorism”, the statement quoted Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, as saying. “Anyone providing support to the Adrian Darya 1 risks being sanctioned. The path to relief is to change course and not allow the IRGC-QF to profit from illicit oil sales.”

The sanctions envisage blocking all property and interests in property of designated individuals and legal entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons. All business dealings with them by US citizens or within the United States are prohibited.

The Panama-flagged Grace 1 supertanker was detained by Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion that it was transporting crude oil to Syria in violation of sanctions. The UK Royal Marines took part in the operation. According to Gibraltar authorities, the 28 crewmembers, citizens of India, Pakistan and Ukraine, were aboard the tanker. Acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borell said that the vessel had been seized at the US request. Iran repeatedly voiced protests regarding the seizure, slamming it as an act of piracy.

Gibraltar released the vessel on August 15. Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization reported that the tanker had changed its name from Grace 1 to Adrian Darya 1 and was heading to one of the Mediterranean ports.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said the US government had information suggesting that the vessel headed to Syria. “We have reliable information that the tanker is underway and headed to Tartus, Syria. I hope it changes course. It was a big mistake to trust Zarif”, Pompeo said in a Twitter post, adding that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier “guaranteed to the UK that the IRGC oil tanker Grace1 / AdrianDarya1 would not head to Syria.”

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