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Grace 1 tanker: UK condemns Iran over Adrian Darya 1 delivery of oil to Syria



The foreign secretary has condemned Iran for a breach of “assurances” after it delivered its oil to Syria using the Grace 1 tanker.

Dominic Raab issued a statement after satellite pictures emerged that showed the tanker, also called the Adrian Darya 1, approaching a port in Syria.

The ship was impounded by Gibraltar in July after British Royal Marines abseiled onto the vessel and took its crew into custody over concerns it would break sanctions on Syria by delivering Iranian oil.

The Adrian Darya-1 seemingly shown by satellite images near Syria

The Adrian Darya-1 seemingly shown by satellite images near Syria
But it was later released when officials received a promise from Iran that the tanker would not go there.

An angry statement from the Foreign Office said it was “now clear that Iran has breached these assurances and that the oil has been transferred to Syria and Assad’s murderous regime”.

It said the Iranian ambassador had been summoned to explain the “unacceptable violation of international norms”, and that the UK would be raising the issue at the United Nations later this month.

Mr Raab added: “This sale of oil to Assad’s brutal regime is part of a pattern of behaviour by the Government of Iran designed to disrupt regional security.

“This includes illegally supplying weapons to Houthi insurgents in Yemen, support for Hezbollah terrorists and most recently its attempts to hijack commercial ships passing through the Gulf.”

The ship was seen near the Syrian port of Tartus

The ship was seen near the Syrian port of Tartus

“We want Iran to come in from the cold but the only way to do that is to keep its word and comply with the rules based international system.”

Suspicions that the assurances would be broken heightened when the ship switched off its automatic identification system allowing its movements to be tracked last week.

It prompted US national security adviser John Bolton to publish a satellite picture showing the ship near the port of Tartus, with the comment: “Anyone who said the Adrian Darya-1 wasn’t headed to Syria is in denial.”

The switching off of the tracking system followed a pattern of Iranian oil tankers temporarily disappearing in an attempt to hide where they deliver their cargo, despite American efforts to seize them.

The US say the ship is owned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a faction of the Iranian leadership structure which answers to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and designated a terror group by the Americans.

Mr Bolton also condemned Iranian “deception”, tweeting that with two weeks to go before the UN General Assembly – which will be attended by most of the world’s leaders – “you can be sure #Iran is working overtime on deception.

“Let’s review the greatest hits, starting with the most recent. #Iran denied the Adrian Darya-1 was headed to #Syria, then confirmed today its oil was offloaded there. #IranWebOfLies”.

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Iran seizes vessel ‘smuggling diesel fuel’ to UAE | World News



Iran has seized a vessel in the Gulf for allegedly smuggling diesel fuel to the United Arab Emirates, an Iranian news agency has reported.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have intercepted a vessel reportedly carrying 250,000 litres of fuel, according to the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).

“It was detained near Iran’s Greater Tunb island in the Persian Gulf… the crew have been handed over to legal authorities in the southern Hormozgan province,” ISNA said.

The article did not include details of the nationalities of the crewmen.

The reported seizure comes as fingers are pointed at Iran as the architect of a drone attack that significantly damaged oil facilities in Saudi Arabia and following a tit-for-tat seizure of oil tankers in previous months.

Earlier this month, satellite images showed the Adrian Darya-1 oil tanker (formerly known as Grace 1), docked near Syria.

The tanker has been renamed the Adrian Darya-1

The tanker has been renamed the Adrian Darya-1

The tanker had previously been held by the British Royal Marines off Gibraltar for several weeks back in July over concerns it would break sanctions on Syria by delivering oil to the country.

Iran retaliated by detaining the British-flagged Stena Impero in the Gulf.

More follows…

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Pressure On Buhari To Sue South Africa For Xenophobic Attacks



The federal government says it will not rule out any option in its response to xenophobic attacks against Nigerians by South Africa, The Guardian reports.

It stated this following the advice by a former External Affairs Minister and Professor of Political Science, Bolaji Akinyemi, urging the Nigerian government to take South Africa to the International Criminal Court of Justice.

The violence against Nigerians and other Africans in parts of South Africa had erupted on September 1, forcing the Nigerian government to evacuate its citizens from the country. Akinyemi accused the South African government of failing to protect Nigerians and making statements unbecoming of a responsible country.

According to him, Nigeria must sue because the attacks were in violation of Article 2, Paragraph 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. He said they also violated Article 2, Paragraph 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers.

He further accused South African authorities of sponsoring or condoning the attacks, noting that the stance of the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Naledi Pandor, amounted to Acrophobia.

He noted that statements by South African leaders such as Pandor, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and former Deputy Minister of Police Bongani Mkongi encouraged the latest attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals.

But former Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku said it would not be wise for Nigeria to approach the ICC on the matter, stressing: “The two countries have large mutual interests to protect for themselves and for Africa.”

He said the statement of apology by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday at the funeral of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Harare “should be welcomed and high-level diplomacy should now be employed by Nigeria to de-escalate the situation and make South Africa pay compensation”.

Anyaoku described the recurring aggression as provocative, given Nigeria’s role in ushering in non-racial democracy in South Africa and his (Anyaoku’s) seminal role as Commonwealth Secretary-General in the negotiations.

“It is very saddening,” he said, “to see the current xenophobic violence against Nigerians and other Africans legally residing and doing business in South Africa. But maturity and internal African solution must be brought to bear on the situation.”

President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina and Special Adviser on Diaspora Abike Dabiri-Erewa said only the ministers of foreign affairs and information could comment on Akinyemi’s advice.“All matters relating to diplomatic moves or foreign affairs policies should be directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs,” Dabiri-Erewa said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama told The Guardian that Nigeria “cannot rule anything out for now” when asked if the country would sue South Africa. “We are still receiving reports from our High Commission and the Consulate General, evaluating them and weighing options,” Onyeama said.

Minister of Information Lai Mohammed had not replied to the inquiry sent to him at the time of filing this report.

Ramaphosa, meanwhile, has dispatched three special envoys to seven African countries to deliver messages of pan-African unity and solidarity following the attacks, said presidential spokesperson, Khusela Diko.

The envoys will reassure fellow African countries that South Africa is committed to the ideals of pan-African unity and solidarity. They will also reaffirm South Africa’s commitment to the rule of law, Diko said.

The envoys, according to him, will visit Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

They will brief governments in the countries about steps the South African government is taking to stop the attacks and hold the perpetrators to account.

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Oil prices surge after Saudi drone attacks as US-Iran row deepens | World News



Global oil prices surged by nearly 20% following the bombing of two massive Saudi energy plants.

Analysts have warned US motorists are likely to feel the effects in coming days as pump prices are set to rise, with Californian motorists to be hit the hardest as the state relies on Saudi oil imports more than any other.

Brent crude futures soared by 19.5% as trading opened in New York on Sunday evening, with a session high of $71.95 (£57.58) a barrel – the highest level since May and the biggest jump in 28 years.

It then settled to a 13% jump at $68.06 (£54.6) per barrel.

Drones bombed the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia and the Khurais oil field, operated by the state-owned Saudi Aramco, in the early hours of Saturday, according to the kingdom’s interior ministry.

Drone attacks targeted a major Saudi Aramco processing facility and oilfield in the kingdom's east

Saudi Arabia oil plant ablaze

The plants produce nearly 6% of the world’s oil, and half of Saudi’s oil, with the attack cutting output by 5.7 million barrels a day.

Saudi Arabia has promised to fill in the production gap with its reserves, but Aramco said the damage could take weeks to repair.

Smoke is seen following a fire at an Aramco factory

Smoke spread out from the Aramco plant

A Saudi official told the Wall Street Journal a third of output could be restored on Monday.

On Sunday US President Donald Trump said oil from the US’s emergency fuel storage of 640 million barrels, held in Louisiana and Texas, will be released if needed.

The bombing has heightened tensions in the region, with the US claiming Iran was responsible for the assault which was almost immediately claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels from Yemen.

Satellite image shows damage to the oil refinery. Pic: European Commission

Satellite image shows damage to the oil refinery. Pic: European Commission

Mr Trump said the US had fresh evidence to back up Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s allegation made the day before that Iran was responsible.

Mr Trump tweeted the US is “locked and loaded” – depending on verification – and he is waiting to hear from the Saudis about who they believe attacked the plants.

He added he is not willing “to meet with Iran”.

Senior US officials said satellite imagery and other intelligence showed the strike was inconsistent with one launched from Yemen, where the Houthis are based.

Photos showed what officials said were at least 19 points of impact at the two Saudi oil plants which were consistent with coming from Iran or Iraq, rather than Yemen to the south.

They also said more devices were recovered from northwest of the facilities after not reaching their targets.

Iran responded by saying the US claims are “maximum lies”, while a commander in its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard warned its forces could strike US military bases across the Middle East with their ballistic missiles.

Khurais oil plant

The Khurais oil plant was hit

Iranian Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said: “Because of the tension and sensitive situation, our region is like a powder keg.

“When these contacts come too close, when forces come into contact with one another, it is possible a conflict happens because of a misunderstanding.”

He told Iranian media Revolutionary Guard forces were ready for a counterattack if America responded.

The incursion adds to a number of incidents which have inflamed tensions over the past months.

Several oil tankers have been hit, with America blaming Tehran, and there has been at least one suspected Israeli strike on Shiite forces in Iraq.

Iran also shot down a US military surveillance drone.

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