On August 20th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the US would take “every action” to prevent the Iranian supertanker Adrian Darya 1 from reaching Syria and offloading its crude oil.
Iran denied the tanker was ever headed to Syria.
Iran’s semi-official news agency ILNA, reported that an unnamed US State Department official on August 19th warned that aiding the Adrian Darya 1 has “potential criminal consequences.”
The US official, who was relaying the threat against provision of assistance to the supertanker, said Washington had conveyed its “strong position” to the government in Greece as well as all Mediterranean ports regarding likely facilitation of Adrian Darya 1’s journey.
The official alleged that Adrian Darya 1 was in the service of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Iran’s elite defense force, which Washington has unilaterally blacklisted as a “terrorist organization.”
The official added that any efforts to assist the tanker could be considered as providing material support to “a US-designated foreign terrorist organization.”
It is worth noting that both the Straits Times and Reuters reported that ILNA had claimed the Adrian Darya 1 was leased to the IRGC, which wasn’t corroborated. The only mention of possible leasing to the IRGC is to say that the US State Department alleged that this was the situation.
“The Grace 1 vessel, renamed Adrian Darya 1 after the seizure, is a Korean-made oil tanker owned by Russia which is currently leased to one of Iran’s shipping lines,” ILNA said.
Separately, Fox News cited unnamed Western intelligence sources, claiming that another Iranian tanker, the Bonita Queen, is allegedly on its way to Dubai with an end goal of offloading 600,000 barrels of oil in Syria.
According to the report:
“The Bonita Queen loaded 600,000 barrels of crude oil on August 2 near the Iranian coast at Kharg Island. Shortly after, the tanker was de-flagged by the country of St. Kitts and Nevis, fearing retaliatory U.S. sanctions.
The vessel is now headed to Dubai, where it will refuel before beginning a months-long journey around the horn of Africa, through the Mediterranean and to the shores of Syria.”
As per the Bonita Queen’s route, it could potentially link up with two Syrian-owned tankers in the Mediterranean in the coming months and would allegedly transfer crude oil via ship-to-ship transfer.
Analysts have claimed to identify the Syrian tankers as the “Kader” and “Jasmine” — described as owned by a businessman said to be close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Muhammad al-Qatirji.
Qatirji is under US Department of Treasury sanctions.
The entire situation is based on an anonymous source, and there’s really no evidence, as Tanker Trackers admitted.
We can’t say for sure where Bonita Queen is going because she’s still anchored off of Larak Island in the Strait of Hormuz. There are three other vessels currently en route to Syria. Also, BQ still doesn’t officially have an Iranian flag, and without it she’ll risk arrest at Suez
Meanwhile, in the Red Sea, the US-sanctioned Iranian tanker – the HELM, suffered a technical failure, 75-mile off Yanbu port.
NITC technical manager Jabal Ameli said the tanker’s staffs are trying to remove the technical problem, adding that the ship is in a stable situation. There are no injuries to the crew.
So far, it appears that the Adrian Darya 1 is an Iranian win against the US “maximum pressure” campaign, but subsequent actions and threats towards Greece and other possible ports will show whether the US can impede the Islamic Republic’s actions.