(Beirut) A complete lack of clarity on Friday over the final destination of Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, nearly two weeks after his release by the Gibraltar authorities, challenged by Washington, Turkey and Lebanon having denied that he was heading to their country. ribs.
The US Treasury Department has announced sanctions against the tanker and its captain.
"Adrian Darya 1 is considered as a seized property" in line with a "decree targeting terrorists and those who support terrorists or terrorist actions," the Treasury said in a statement, adding that Captain Akhilesh Kumar was also the subject of those sanctions.
Transporting 2.1 million barrels of crude oil worth more than $ 140 million, Adrian Darya 1 was seized on July 4 off Gibraltar, suspected of carrying oil to Syria, in violation of European sanctions .
On August 18, the ship was finally allowed to sail, despite intervention by the United States, Iran's arch-enemy, who wanted to keep it at a standstill. The British authorities in Gibraltar noted that Tehran had undertaken not to send this cargo.
Since then, the oil tanker has been sailing in the Mediterranean, without it being possible to determine its destination or the fate of its cargo. For if Iran said Monday it sold the oil aboard the Adrian Darya 1, he did not disclose the identity of the buyer.
On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said "the tanker was heading for Lebanon".
Beirut at once denied this statement. "There is no demand for Adrian Darya 1 to enter Lebanon," Energy Minister Nada Boustani told his Twitter account.
Mr. Cavusoglu then clarified his remarks, saying that the ship will not necessarily dock at a Lebanese port, but that it was heading for "the territorial waters of the country".
On a visit to Oslo, he said the ship was not en route to Iskenderun, a port in southern Turkey named Alexandrette in French, reported as a tanker destination by MarineTraffic, which monitors shipping traffic.
Friday around 16:00 GMT, according to MarineTraffic, Adrian Darya was just north-west of Cyprus, after completing a loop in the previous day.
The previous days, he had posted as Mersin destination, in Turkey, then Kalamata, in the south of the Greek peninsula of Peloponnese. Athens assured that the tanker was not heading for Greece.
And "if it enters the territorial waters of Lebanon, measures will be taken to return," said a senior official in the Lebanese government, on condition of anonymity.
"Zigzag without goal"
Renamed Adrian Darya 1 on his departure from Gibraltar, the tanker sailed under the Iranian flag. He used to have a Panamanian flag and was named Grace 1.
Tehran had assured it could not be "transparent" about the destination of its oil, accusing the United States of trying to "intimidate" potential buyers.
In recent weeks, this case has crystallized tensions between the United States and Iran.
These tensions have increased since Washington unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from an international agreement concluded in 2015 to oversee Iran's nuclear power. The United States then reinstated draconian sanctions against Tehran.
According to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the sale of oil carried by Adrian Darya 1 would help finance the Iranian forces.
On August 19, Mr. Pompeo had hoped that the tanker would be boarded again so as not to fuel the "campaign of terror" that Washington accuses Tehran of leading.
In the past, Washington has also accused the ship of trying to transport its cargo to Syria, where the Tehran-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad is also subject to US economic sanctions.
The arrest also caused a serious crisis between London and Tehran, which seized a British tanker, the Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz on 19 July.
TankerTrackers, the oil transport monitoring site warned Friday on social networks that one should not rely too much on the destinations posted by Adrian Darya 1, leaning rather for a transfer of the cargo on smaller tankers.
"You have to consider this as an update of the data rather than something substantial," according to the site.
"We think a transfer will still take place in a few days. Turkey will not import this oil, "the source said.
Meanwhile, the ship "zigzags aimlessly in the Mediterranean".