Pentagon chief says not after seizing Adrian Darya 1

September 6, 2019

TEHRAN – U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Thursday the Pentagon had no plan to seize the Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, which was seized off Gibraltar in July and released after a month despite U.S. pressures.

The vessel, formerly named Grace 1, was detained by British Royal Marine commandos off Gibraltar on July 4 on the pretext that it was suspected to be en route to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

Iran firmly rejects the claim.

Gibraltar released the Iranian vessel on August 15 despite a last-minute legal bid by the United States to have it detained.

“We do not talk about plans, but currently I have no plan right now sitting on my desk to do such a thing,” Esper told reporters in London when asked if there was any plan to seize the ship, according to Reuters.

It came after the U.S. Treasury Department warned that anyone around the world who helps fuel Iranian vessels blacklisted by Washington runs the risk of being designated as well.

The Treasury Department blacklisted Adrian Darya 1 on August 30.

Washington has warned that it would regard any assistance given to the ship as support for a terrorist group. 

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, has said “the bunkering by non-U.S. persons of an Iranian vessel that has been identified as blocked property of an Iranian person ... and the making of related payments for these bunkering services — risk being designated themselves.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday that OFAC was nothing more than a “jail warden”.

“OFAC is nothing more than a JAILWARDEN: Ask for reprieve (waiver), get thrown in solitary for the audacity. Ask again and you might end up in the gallows,” Zarif wrote on his Twitter account.

The recent developments outline how the Trump administration is applying so-called secondary sanctions, or sanctions on entities in third party countries, in regards to the Iranian tanker and any other Iranian vessels it blacklists.

The Trump administration last year pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions that were lifted under the deal and imposed new ones.

MH/PA

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