British Royal Navy patrol vessel guards the oil supertanker Grace 1
British Royal Navy patrol vessel guards the oil supertanker Grace 1Reuters

The United States will aggressively enforce its sanctions to prevent the private sector from assisting an Iranian oil tanker that is traveling through the Mediterranean and that Washington wants seized, a State Department official said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

“The shipping sector is on notice that we will aggressively enforce US sanctions,” the official told the news agency.

Earlier this week, the Adrian Darya, formerly the Grace 1, left Gibraltar which detained it last month on the grounds that it was violating the sanctions against Syria.

Ship tracking data has shown the ship last heading toward Greece, although Greece’s prime minister said it was not heading to his country.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the United States would act against anyone who directly or indirectly helped the tanker.

“All parties in the shipping sector should conduct appropriate due diligence to ensure that they are not doing business with nor facilitating business for, directly or indirectly, sanctioned parties or with sanctioned cargo,” the official warned.

The ship was released from detention off Gibraltar after a five-week standoff over whether it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

Soon after the detention order was lifted, a US federal court ordered the seizure of the vessel on different grounds, but that petition was rejected by Gibraltar.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the United States will take every action it can to prevent an Iranian tanker from delivering oil to Syria in contravention of US sanctions

“We have made clear that anyone who touches it, anyone who supports it, anyone who allows a ship to dock is at risk of receiving sanctions from the United States,” Pompeo told reporters.

“If that ship again heads to Syria we will take every action we can consistent with those sanctions to prevent that,” he stressed.