"The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action today against Adrian Darya 1, an oil tanker transporting 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil ultimately benefiting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF). The Adrian Darya 1 is being identified as blocked property pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorism or acts of terrorism. As part of today’s action, the Adrian Darya 1’s captain, Akhilesh Kumar, is also designated pursuant to E.O. 13224", the release said on Friday.
The release added that anyone offering assistance to the Adrian Darya 1 risks being sanctioned.
The oil tanker was seized by forces from the state of Gibraltar on 4 July, on suspicion of carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions and released on 15 August. While Gibraltar reportedly said it received written assurances from the captain of the vessel that the tanker was not going to deliver its cargo to Syria, Tehran denied making such statements. On 19 August, the Middle Eastern nation confirmed that the tanker had left Gibraltar's waters.
Earlier in August, the United States in a last-ditch attempt to seize the tanker for breaching international law by allegedly making illegal oil shipments to Syria issued a warrant. A US court ruled that the vessel, its cargo and $995,000 in cash are subject to confiscation due to violations of a number of US laws on bank fraud and money laundering, as well as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and law on confiscation for terrorism-related activities.
Authorities of Gibraltar rejected the United States' request to extend the tanker's detention, citing differences in US and European sanctions against Iran.
The tanker's current destination is unknown, but an Iranian government spokesperson said on Monday that its oil had been sold to a buyer whom he refused to disclose.
Earlier on Friday, a source in the Turkish port of Mersin said that the tanker was heading toward Iskenderun, a city in southern Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, however, that the vessel was heading to Lebanon.
Iran said earlier this month that it was considering sending naval ships to escort the Adrian Darya 1 tanker.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran sparked last year when the Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The United States also reimposed sanctions on Iran, which then retaliated by scrapping some of its commitments under an agreement that envisages preserving the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.
Tensions around Iran were further exacerbated earlier this summer when several tankers were allegedly attacked in the Persian Gulf area, prompting the increase of the United States' military presence in the region.