The Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1 blacklisted by the United States has been off the coast of Lebanon and Syria for the past 24 hours, maritime monitors said on Monday. "The Adrian Darya 1 has stopped just 45 nautical miles (83km/52 miles) west of Tripoli, Lebanon, in international waters,” TankerTrackers, a maritime traffic monitoring website said. MarineTraffic said the vessel previously known as Grace 1 was since Sunday off the coast of Syria, where US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said it would unload.
Pompeo said he had "reliable information" it was transporting oil to Syria in defiance of wide-ranging sanctions on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The US Department of Treasury said the vessel was “blocked property” under an anti-terrorist order, and “anyone providing support to the Adrian Darya 1 risks being sanctioned”.
The declared and suspected destination of the Adrian Darya has changed multiple times since it was released from Gibraltar.
Earlier, Iran had announced that the 2.1 million barrels of crude aboard an Iranian oil tanker pursued by the US has been sold to an unnamed buyer. Government spokesman Ali Rabiei declined to name the oil’s buyer, nor terms for the sale. At market rates, the crude oil aboard the Adrian Darya would be worth about USD 130 million. However, anyone buying it likely would be targeted by US financial sanctions.
“The buyer of the oil decides where its destination is,” Rabiei said, adding that the world is “witnessing the wrong policy by the US in monitoring and intervention in others’ internal affairs.”
In the time since, Iran has lost billions of dollars in business deals, as the US re-imposed and escalated sanctions largely blocking Tehran from selling crude abroad, a crucial source of hard currency for the Islamic Republic.
Tensions have spiked in the Gulf since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers—known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Ships have been attacked, drones downed and oil tankers seized in the Gulf in recent months.