Oil tanker unloaded cargo on Mediterranean coast, says Tehran

Updated September 09, 2019

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Adrian Darya 1, which went dark off Syria last week, has been photographed by satellite off the Syrian port of Tartus. — AFP/File
Adrian Darya 1, which went dark off Syria last week, has been photographed by satellite off the Syrian port of Tartus. — AFP/File

DUBAI: An Iranian tanker at the centre of a dispute between Tehran and Western powers has delivered its cargo after docking somewhere on the Mediterranean coast, Iran’s state news agency IRNA quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying.

“The Adrian Darya oil tanker finally docked on the Mediterranean coast ... and unloaded its cargo,” IRNA quoted the spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, as saying.

The tanker Adrian Darya 1, which went dark off Syria last week, has been photographed by satellite off the Syrian port of Tartus. The tanker was detained in Gibraltar for allegedly breaking sanctions on Syria.

Iran said in late August that it had sold the oil on the Adrian Darya 1 tanker and the purchaser would decide the destination of the cargo. Iran on Sunday hinted that it could release “within days” a UK-flagged oil tanker it had seized in July in sensitive Gulf waters amid rising hostilities with Britain’s ally the United States.

Foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state television the “necessary steps” to set the Swedish-owned ship free were “underway”.

“The final steps of the legal procedure are underway and, God willing, the boat will be released in the coming days,” he said, without giving further details.

The seizure of the Stena Impero was seen as a tit-for-tat move after British authorities detained an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar in July on suspicion it was shipping oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.Tehran denied it had made any promises about the destination of the ship laden with 2.1 million barrels of oil, which had been elusive since leaving Gibraltar.Maritime tracking service TankerTrackers said that as of Sunday night the Adrian Darya was off the coast of Syria’s Tartus but had not unloaded the oil.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the Stena Impero on July 19 in the Strait of Hormuz with 23 crew members on board, claiming it broke “international maritime rules”.

On Wednesday, the Swedish foreign ministry said that some of the crew had been released, after the vessel’s owners said they expected seven to be set free on that day.

Tensions between arch-enemies Iran and the US have soared ever since Washington stepped up its campaign of “maximum pressure” against Tehran and reimposed sanctions after leaving the landmark 2015 nuclear deal last year.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2019