Iran says its oil tanker discharged cargo despite pressures

The spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry says despite all acts of sabotage by the United States, the Iranian tanker Adrian Darya 1 has discharged its oil cargo and is now berthing at a Mediterranean port.

“We had already said that we would sell our oil one way or another and acts of sabotage would have no effect on our plans,” Abbas Mousavi said while speaking to IRNA on Sunday.

The Iranian diplomat noted that measures taken by the United States to confiscate the tanker contravened international regulations, including the law of the sea and regulations of the International Maritime Organization.

“However, such acts of sabotage cannot have any impact on our measures and, as we said before, we will sell our oil and such measures will only cause trouble for those who take them,” Mousavi said.

On July 4, Britain’s naval forces unlawfully seized supertanker Adrian Darya 1, then known as Grace 1, and its cargo in the Strait of Gibraltar on the pretext that it had been suspected of carrying crude to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against the Arab country.

Tehran, however, rejected London’s claim about the tanker’s destination and slammed the seizure as “piracy.”

According to Spain’s Foreign Ministry, the UK had seized the vessel at the request of the US, which has been trying to trouble Iran’s international oil vessels as part of its campaign of economic pressure against the Islamic Republic.

Late last month, the United States blacklisted the vessel and put its captain on the sanctions list, according to the US Treasury Department.

A report by The Financial Times revealed on September 4 that four days before the US imposed sanctions on the tanker, the vessel’s Indian captain received an unusual email from Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran at the Department of State.

According to several emails seen by The Financial Times, Hook wrote to the Indian captain of the tanker, Akhilesh Kumar, on August 26 that the administration of US President Donald Trump was offering him several million dollars to pilot the ship to a country that would impound the vessel on behalf of the US.

In reaction to the report, the Iranian foreign minister slammed the US for its policy of enticing and threatening, saying, “Having failed at piracy, the US resorts to outright blackmail—deliver us Iran’s oil and receive several million dollars or be sanctioned yourself.”

In his Sunday interview with IRNA, the Iranian spokesman said, “The Adrian Darya 1 oil tanker, despite acts of sabotage, finally docked on the Mediterranean coast and unloaded its cargo and its owner will make a decision for its future.”

In a post on his official Twitter account late last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the United States resorts to “piracy and threats” to stop Iran’s oil sales but the Islamic Republic will continue to “sell oil to any and all buyers.”

“US engages in piracy & threats to prevent Iran from selling oil to traditional customers. Stop nagging @SecPompeo: We will sell oil to any & all buyers,” Zarif said.

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British oil tanker could be released soon: Mousavi

In response to a question about the latest developments surrounding a British oil tanker seized in the Persian Gulf in July for violating international maritime law, Mousavi said it is expected to be freed in the coming days.

He added that legal proceedings against the oil tanker are completing and “we hope it will be released in the near future.”

The 30,000-tonne UK-flagged Stena Impero tanker was seized by Iranian naval forces on July 19, when it ignored distress call as it collided with a fishing boat on its route.

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said the ship had also used a wrong path to enter the Strait of Hormuz.

On Wednesday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the country has released seven crew members of the British oil tanker “on humanitarian grounds.”

The official said, “We have no problem with the crew and captain of the ship. The vessel was impounded for committing a violation and, naturally, when a ship is seized, its crew members come under arrest likewise.”

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