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Iranian media backtracks on claim seized tanker released to Revolutionary Guard

Gibraltar rejected a US request to seize the Adrian Darya 1 over alleged links to IRGC
A crew member raises the Iranian flag on Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1, as it sits anchored in the Strait of Gibraltar (Reuters)

An Iranian media outlet has reported that a tanker detained in Gibraltar, for which the US has issued a warrant to be seized, is currently leased to a shipping firm after "correcting" a report saying it was leased to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Iran's semi-official ILNA news agency said on Wednesday the tanker Adrian Darya 1, which was released after being detained in Gibraltar, was leased to the group, which the US designates as a terrorist organisation.

"It is worth noting that the Grace 1 vessel, renamed Adrian Darya after the seizure, is a Korean-made oil tanker owned by Russia which is currently leased to the Revolutionary Guards," ILNA said, without citing a source.

The comment came in an ILNA interview with the head of the IRGC navy, Alireza Tangsiri.

"The Adrian Darya vessel needs no escort," Tangsiri told ILNA, in an apparent show of defiance.

However, the news outlet later issued a correction saying the tanker was instead leased to an Iranian shipping firm.

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After a six-week standoff between Iran and Britain, the Adrian Darya 1 finally set sail overnight Sunday after Gibraltar rejected a US demand to seize the vessel over its alleged IRGC links.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Tuesday that the United States would take every action it could to prevent the tanker sailing in the Mediterranean from delivering oil to Syria in contravention of US sanctions.

Iran has denied the tanker was ever headed to Syria.

Separately, Iran said on Wednesday that an Iranian oil tanker has broken down in the Red Sea but the crew are safe and repairs are underway.

The report identified the disabled tanker as HELM. A vessel with the same name is on a list of individuals, companies and vessels that are subject to US sanctions, according to the US Treasury's website.