OSLO/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Turkey stated on Friday that an Iranian tanker on the heart of a confrontation between Washington and Tehran was headed to Lebanon after altering course a number of instances, though Beirut stated it was not knowledgeable of the plan.
FILE PHOTO: A crew member takes footage with a cell phone on Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, beforehand named Grace 1, as it sits anchored after the Supreme Court of the British territory lifted its detention order, within the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain, August 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo
According to Refinitiv monitoring information, the Adrian Darya, previously referred to as Grace 1, made a U-turn on Friday and headed for Turkey’s Iskenderun port – 200 km (124 miles) north of Syria’s Baniyas refinery, the tanker’s suspected authentic vacation spot.
However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated the tanker, which was carrying 2 million barrels of oil when launched at Gibraltar, was headed to “the main port in Lebanon.”
On the sidelines of a discussion board in Oslo, Cavusoglu informed Reuters that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke of the ship’s coordinates with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday. “We are monitoring (the tanker) very closely,” he added.
In response, Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil informed Reuters in a separate interview: “We have not been informed of the Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya heading (here).”
The obvious confusion underlines the danger of reprisal that nations face taking within the tanker, which was positioned west of Cyprus and going through north mid-Friday after a sequence of turns within the Mediterranean Sea, in accordance to monitoring information.
The tanker was launched from detention off Gibraltar in mid-August after a five-week standoff over whether or not it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.
The United States, which says the tanker is managed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which it considers a terrorist group, has informed nations within the area not to assist the vessel.
Beirut port – the nation’s main gateway – is unlikely to have amenities for absolutely laden supertankers that require deep-water amenities to dock.
Shipping sources say the tanker would want to conduct a ship-to-ship switch earlier than having the ability to enter the port or doubtlessly discharge its cargo offshore in direction of Lebanon’s Tripoli port additional north, which is nearer to Syria’s shoreline between Lebanon and Turkey.
Beirut and Tripoli ports have each served as transhipment hubs for cargoes certain for Syria in recent times throughout Syria’s battle.
An Iranian authorities spokesman was quoted on Monday as saying Iran had offered the oil aboard the tanker and that the vessel’s proprietor, whose id he didn’t disclose, would resolve its vacation spot.
When the ship was launched at Gibraltar, Iran assured the United Kingdom that the cargo was not headed to Syria.
After its launch, it said that its vacation spot was the Greek port of Kalamata, then Turkey’s Mersin. On Thursday, it abruptly modified course, making nearly a U-turn away from the Turkish coast.
While west of Cyprus on Friday morning, it did an analogous maneuver, doubling again on itself.
Additional reporting by Michele Kambas in Athens and Jonathan Saul in London; Writing by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Hugh Lawson, William Maclean