Alleged satellite images released by the US-headquartered space technology company Maxar Technologies on Thursday claim to show activity around an Iranian oil tanker which was thought to be anchored off the coast of Syria.
In the photos, the Adrian Darya 1 is seen alongside the smaller Iranian tanker Jasmine, with mooring lines between the ships and a crane deployed on the larger vessel.
The images were released as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the Adrian Darya 1 is preparing to transport oil to Syria.
“Despite [Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad] Zarif’s promise to the UK that the #AdrianDarya1 would not deliver oil to Syria, it is now transferring oil off the Syrian coast,” Pompeo tweeted.
He referred to images from the tracking service Tanker Trackers which appear to show the vessel, Adrian Darya-1, positioned alongside a smaller Syrian tanker, Jasmine, off the coast of Syria.
Despite Iran FM Zarif’s promise to the UK that the #AdrianDarya1 would not deliver oil to Syria, it is now transferring oil off the Syrian coast. Will the world hold Iran accountable if this oil is delivered to Syria? pic.twitter.com/z5Ra41n43u— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 2, 2019
“This is not a confirmation of any oil transfer just yet. We'll compare imagery later,” the tracking service, in turn, said on its Twitter page.
Seazure and Release of Adrian Darya 1
The Iranian oil tanker the Grace 1 (now known as the Adrian Darya 1) was detained by UK marines off the coast of Gibraltar on 4 July, as London claimed that the vessel was transporting crude oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions imposed on Damascus.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry, in turn, condemned the seizure as an act of pure piracy, which “sets up a dangerous precedent.”
On 15 August, the tanker was released by Gibraltarian authorities, who stated that there is not a sufficient reason to hold it, despite a US request to continue the seizure and the issuance of a US warrant to detain the ship. Iran, for its part, gave assurances that the vessel would not transport oil to Syria.
Shortly afterwards, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that the tanker had made it to its destination, and sold its oil. He did not clarify whether the ship's crude oil cargo had been delivered, only saying that the ship had docked “on the Mediterranean coast.”