It's official: Iran says its Adrian Darya tanker has finally offloaded its 2.1 million barrels of Iranian oil Sunday after it was days ago spotted off the Syrian port of Tartus, bringing a lengthy standoff with the US and UK which sought to capture the vessel's valuable cargo to an end.
"The Adrian Darya oil tanker finally docked on the Mediterranean coast... and unloaded its cargo," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said according to state-run IRNA. He didn't name the country which purchased the oil, but satellite images reveal the IRGC-controlled vessel hasn't left Syria's coast.
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 an 'illegal' delivery of its Iranian crude worth about $130 million to Syria.
Gibraltar's Aug. 15th release of the vessel came only after Iran issued a written assurance it would not deliver the Iranian oil to Syria, in violation of EU sanctions.
At the start of this weekend after the Iranian tanker was observed within a few nautical miles of Syria's coast, John Bolton issued an 'I told ya so' type tweet, saying, "Anyone who said the Adrian Darya-1 wasn't headed to Syria is in denial."
But it doesn't appear Washington is going to do anything about it.
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.
Thankfully Syrians will receive much needed fuel supplies. Sanctions hurt the weakest and poorest. They are a form of collective punishment that the US should abjure. This is a misguided policy that will not dislodge Assad, but will add to the suffering of powerless Syrians. https://t.co/TxbMQ8GYuW— Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) September 8, 2019
Despite Iran's now confirming the delivery of the oil, evidently to Syria, a US Treasury official on Sunday disputed whether the actual offloading had taken place at the time of Iran's announcement.
"Right now it's parked right outside of Syria," Sigal P Mandelker, a US Treasury official, was quoted in Al Jazeera as saying. "So it's yet another game of deception that we see them engaged in that we think the world needs to open its eyes to."