The Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1 is now located just of off the Syrian port of Tartus after it spent days with its signal transponder shut off in order to evade tracking, Reuters reports, citing new satellite imagery provided by a US space technology company.
Washington has done everything short of military action to thwart and detain the vessel, including issuing a seizure warrant and bribing the ship's captain with millions of dollars to steer it into a US-allied port.
The tanker's last signal had been issued on Monday when it was sailing between Cyprus and Syria before it went "dark".
US officials have also reaffirmed their belief the Iran-flagged tanker which they say is controlled the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is bound to offload its oil to Syria (or conduct a ship-to-ship transfer) in violation of EU sanctions.
On Friday US national security adviser John Bolton tweeted a satellite image of the vessel saying in apparent frustration, "Anyone who said the Adrian Darya-1 wasn't headed to Syria is in denial."
Anyone who said the Adrian Darya-1 wasn’t headed to #Syria is in denial. Tehran thinks it’s more important to fund the murderous Assad regime than provide for its own people. We can talk, but #Iran’s not getting any sanctions relief until it stops lying and spreading terror! pic.twitter.com/saar05T8wt— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) September 6, 2019
Part of the US case for pressing UK/Gibraltar authorities to not release the vessel from detention last month was that it would ultimately attempt a 'illegal' delivery.
Gibraltar's Aug. 15th release of the vessel after Iran issued a written assurance it would not deliver its 2.1 million barrels of Iranian oil to Syria.
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Meanwhile, Syrians are celebrating the likely impending crude discharge as a welcome relief amid a summer of severe fuel shortages...
For several weeks, #Iran has challenged the 'civilized world' to export oil to #Syria. Tanker Adryan Darya-1 is emptying its cargo of 2.1 million barrels in Tartous, which will provide Syrians including my parents heating resource in the upcoming cold winter.— Kevork Almassian (@KevorkAlmassian) September 7, 2019
Thank you, Iran 🇮🇷