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US blacklists Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya I

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In this file photo taken on August 18, 2019 an Iranian flag flutters on board the Adrian Darya oil tanker, formerly known as Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar. (AFP / Johnny Bugeja)
The United States on Friday sanctioned an Iranian oil tanker previously held for weeks by Gibraltar and released despite Washington’s efforts to keep it detained.

The US Department of Treasury said the vessel, previously known as the Grace 1, is “blocked property” under an anti-terrorist order, and “anyone providing support to the Adrian Darya 1 risks being sanctioned.”

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Iran last year and reimposed crippling unilateral sanctions.

Two weeks ago, the United States threatened a visa ban on the crew of the tanker.

Washington says the vessel is carrying crude ultimately benefiting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, which it has listed as a terrorist organization.

“Vessels like the Adrian Darya 1 enable the IRGC-QF to ship and transfer large volumes of oil, which they attempt to mask and sell illicitly to fund the regime’s malign activities and propagate terrorism,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

Treasury said the Adrian Darya’s captain, Akhilesh Kumar, is also sanctioned under the order, which generally prohibits dealings with the blocked property by US persons.

“In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals and entities designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action,” Treasury said.

Faced with the US warnings, the tanker has been bouncing around the Mediterranean with its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of crude.