The United States has threatened those potentially assisting the return of an Iranian-operated supertanker that has been released by Gibraltar after more than a month of detention there by Britain.
A State Department official was cited by Reuters as saying on Monday that aiding the vessel dubbed Adrian Darya 1 has “potential criminal consequences.”
On July 4, Britain’s naval forces unlawfully seized the vessel, then known as Grace 1, and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil in the Strait of Gibraltar under the pretext that the supertanker 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.”
On Thursday, Gibraltar’s government announced it was releasing the supertanker despite pressure from the US for the vessel’s continued detainment.
Soon after the announcement, the US Department of Justice unveiled a warrant for the seizure of the ship. Gibraltar, however, knocked back the request.
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,” Reuters added.
Rejecting the US Justice Department’s request last Sunday, Gibraltar’s government said that “the EU sanctions regime on Iran is fundamentally different to that of the US."