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Iranian Oil Tanker Reverses Course, Heads Away From Turkey

An Iranian-flagged oil tanker that has been pursued by the United States in the Mediterranean Sea for weeks appeared to have changed course away from its destination in Turkey.

The Adrian Darya 1, formerly known as Grace 1, had listed its destination in its Automatic Identification System (AIS) as Mersin, Turkey, but data from the ship-tracking website MarineTraffic on August 29 showed that as the vessel was traveling between Turkey and Cyprus it turned around and headed back in a western direction.

Mersin is a port city in southern Turkey with an oil terminal. It is about 200 kilometers northwest of a refinery in Baniyas, Syria, where the Adrian Darya 1 was reported to have been heading before being seized off Gibraltar in early July.

The United States has issued a warrant to seize the tanker on the grounds that it had links to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which it designates as a terrorist organization.

The Adrian Darya 1, which is carrying Iranian crude worth some $130 million, was first detained off Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion it was shipping oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

It was allowed to leave the British territory on August 19 after giving assurances that it would not head to Syria.

On August 26, Iran said it had sold the 2.1 million barrels of crude oil on board the ship, though it did not identify the buyer.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have risen since the United States withdrew from the international nuclear deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions on the country.

Iran's economy has suffered under the sanctions, which target its oil and financial sectors.

In July, Tehran announced it is reducing some of its commitments under the nuclear deal.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.