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Iran: Oil Tanker Pursued by US Sells its Cargo


FILE - The Grace 1 super tanker, with the name "Adrian Darya 1" where "Grace 1" had been blackened out, is seen in the British territory of Gibraltar, Aug. 17, 2019.

An Iranian oil tanker at the center of a major diplomatic dispute with the United States has sold its cargo, Iran said.

"The Adrian Darya oil tanker finally docked on the Mediterranean coast ... and unloaded its cargo," Iran's state news agency IRNA quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying on Sunday. He didn't elaborate on the country involved.

The tanker was carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil. It went dark last week and has been photographed by a satellite off the coast of Syria.

The ship was detained by British Marines off Gibraltar in July after it was suspected of violating European Union sanctions against oil sales to Syria. It was held in the British territory for six weeks and eventually released, over the objections of the United States, after Gibraltar said it has received assurances that it would not head for any countries under EU sanctions.

Since then, the U.S. has pursued the tanker, tried to offer a multi-million dollar bribe to its captain to turn over the ship and issued sanctions against its crew.

Also Sunday, Mousavi hinted that Iran might soon release the British-flagged tanker seized by Iran in what many saw as a retaliatory move.

The Stena Impero was going through the final legal processes and "the boat will be released in the coming days," Mousavi said without giving further details.

The ships' seizures were one of several related incidents in recent weeks triggering increased tensions between Tehran and Western nations.

The United States and Iran have shot down each other's unmanned drones, and Western countries have accused Tehran of carrying out other attacks on ships in the Gulf, where a fifth of the world's oil production passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

The incidents stem at least in part from U.S. President Donald Trump's withdrawal last year from the 2015 international nuclear agreement aimed at restraining Tehran's nuclear weapons program. Trump then re-imposed debilitating sanctions, which have hobbled the Iranian economy.An Iranian oil tanker at the center of a major diplomatic dispute with the United States has sold its cargo, Iran said.