US says tanker spotted in Syria shows Iran deceitful

Washington (AFP) –


The United States said Thursday that Iran had shown itself to be untrustworthy after a tanker apparently delivered oil to Syria in defiance of promises.

"I think the importance here to our friends around the world in the international community is to note that once again you have been lied to and misled by the Iranian regime," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told reporters.

An Iranian vessel, originally called the Grace 1 and renamed the Adrian Darya 1, was held for six weeks by the British overseas territory of Gibraltar until authorities received promises it was not heading to Syria, Iran's main Arab ally.

The European Union maintains an embargo on Syria in response to President Bashar al-Assad's bloody crackdown on dissents and rebels.

Britain said Tuesday that Iran breached assurances and that the ship transferred oil to Syria, summoning the Iranian ambassador to protest.

"The Iranian regime broke its word and appears intent on fueling the Assad regime's brutality against the Syrian people, who continue to face widespread violence, death and destruction," Ortagus said.

"This fits into the web of lies perpetrated by the Iranian regime for 40 years," she said.

"Their deception and broken promises are not just aimed at the international community but the Iranian people, too," she said, criticizing the clerical regime's rights record.

President Donald Trump's administration has slapped punishing sanctions on Iran after walking away from a multinational accord on ending its nuclear program.

But Trump has recently said he is open to meeting Iran's leadership after France proposed an initiative aimed at lowering tensions.

Iran has rejected the authority of Gibraltar authorities to seize the ship, calling it an act of piracy.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Sunday that the Adrian Darya had "reached its destination and the oil has been sold," without providing further details.

The United States offered millions of dollars to the ship's Indian captain in an unsuccessful bid to encourage him to divert it to a US-friendly port where the vessel could be seized.