Mike Pompeo is not happy with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, whose cameo at the G-7 in Biarritz last weekend shook up an already contentious multilateral summit that Donald Trump, pretensions to civility aside, did not want to attend.
“FM Zarif guaranteed to the UK that the IRGC oil tanker #Grace1/#AdrianDarya1 would not head to Syria”, Pompeo tweeted on Friday evening, tagging both the vessel’s old and new names, as well as Zarif’s Twitter handle, a testament to the fact that all foreign policy is conducted over social media now.
“We have reliable information that the tanker is underway and headed to Tartus”, Pompeo continued.
To be sure, if the Adrian Darya 1 is headed to Tartus, that’s a slap in the face to the UK.
Gibraltar decided to release the vessel earlier this month upon receiving assurances from Tehran that it won’t ultimately find its way to Syria, but rather to port, in the Mediterranean.
At the time, the Trump administration tried to compel Gibraltar to seize the ship, which was commandeered in July with the help of British special forces. Gibraltar refused, noting that “the EU sanctions regime against Iran – which is applicable in Gibraltar – is much narrower than that applicable in the US”.
The supertanker was originally detained off Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion of carrying crude to the to Banyas Refinery, in breach of EU sanctions against Syria.
On Friday evening, the US sanctioned the ship and its captain. To wit, from the OFAC’s resource center:
The following vessel has been added to OFAC’s SDN List:
ADRIAN DARYA 1 (f.k.a. GRACE 1) Crude Oil Tanker Iran flag; Former Vessel Flag Panama; Vessel Registration Identification IMO 9116412 (vessel) [SDGT].
“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”, Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said, in a statement. “QF” refers to the Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani’s elite extraterritorial unit. “Anyone providing support to the Adrian Darya 1 risks being sanctioned”, Mandelker went on to say.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that the tanker plans to transfer its oil to Syria-bound ships. “The Iranian oil tanker released from Gibraltar over US objections earlier this month is set to offload its cargo to smaller vessels that will take the crude to Syria, potentially violating the terms of its release”, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the plans.
This is yet another escalation in the ongoing spat between Washington and Tehran and it comes on the same day that the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed the Iranians are in violation of the nuclear accord. “Iran accumulated more enriched uranium and purified it to a higher level than allowed under the country’s 2015 agreement with world powers”, IAEA inspectors said Friday, adding that “Iran enriched to 4.5% versus the 3.67% allowed under the agreement [and] accumulated more than the 300 kg of enriched material allowed under deal”.
Also on Friday, Trump tweeted out a controversial image of a launch site and (perhaps sarcastically) insisted the US had nothing to do with an apparent accident.
The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir SLV Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran. I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One. pic.twitter.com/z0iDj2L0Y3
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2019
Zarif is attempting to negotiate with the European powers for a way to sell the country’s crude in the face of the Trump administration’s sanctions. Trump on Monday indicated he’d be willing to meet with Hassan Rouhani and suggested the US would be open to a “line of credit” secured by oil.
Pompeo wrapped up his Friday tweet by suggesting the Adrian Darya “change course”.
“It was a big mistake to trust Zarif”, Mike said, addressing nobody in particular.