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U.S. Warns It Will 'Aggressively' Enforce Sanctions Over Iran Tanker

An Iranian flag flutters on board the Adrian Darya-1 oil tanker, formerly known as Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar on August 18, 2019.

As an Iranian supertanker wanders in the Mediterranean after a five-week detention by Gibraltar, the United States kept warned possible private-sector actors willing to assist the vessel.

A state Department official said Thursday the U.S. will aggressively enforce its sanctions to prevent the private sector from rendering assistance the Adrian Darya-1, formerly called Grace-1, a tanker loaded with more than 2 million barrels of oil.

Before its release on August 11, the U.S. asked Gibraltar to seize the ship for having links with sanctioned Iranian entities. Later, Iran announced that the vessel is indeed “leased” to the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), designated a s a terrorist organization by Washington.

Gibraltar with British assistance had seized the Grace-1 for carrying oil to Syrian refineries sanctioned by EU.

"The shipping sector is on notice that we will aggressively enforce U.S. sanctions," the official told Reuters days after warning countries not to allow the tanker to dock.

The tanker was last reported moving toward Greece, but Athens has said it has received no request to receive the ship at its ports.

Iran is also holding a British-flagged, Swedish-owned oil tanker, accusing it of violating maritime rules. Tehran’s move to seize the tanker on July 19 appeared to be retaliation against the earlier seizure of its tanker by Gibraltar.

After a visit by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Sweden this week, a local TV network reported on Thursday that there are hopes for the tanker’s release.

Reporting by Reuters