Yesterday, we reported on the Iranian oil tanker that had been detained for weeks by Gibraltar, but let go. Against U.S. sanctions, the tanker most likely continued on its way to Syria (most likely because, when it came close to Syria, it turned off its automatic tracking system).
Today, we learned that the U.S. offered the captain of the ship millions of dollars to take the ship to a country that would impound the it on behalf of the U.S. instead of taking it to Syria.
Four days before the U.S. imposed sanction on the ship, Captain Akhilesh Kumar received the following letter: “This is Brian Hook . . . I work for secretary of state Mike Pompeo and serve as the US Representative for Iran. I am writing with good news” — an offer of millions of dollars to ditch the mission.
The letter contained a number at the State Department for the captain to call if interested (he wasn’t).
The Financial Times reports that Hook, who heads the state department’s Iran Action Group, “has emailed or texted roughly a dozen captains in recent months in an effort to scare mariners into understanding that helping Iran evade sanctions comes at a heavy price.”
It’s part of the U.S.’ “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran.