Published: Sun, August 18, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Gibraltar rejects USA request to seize Iranian oil tanker

Gibraltar rejects USA request to seize Iranian oil tanker

Grace 1, which had been detained in the semi-autonomous British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar on the Spanish coast last month, has been renamed the Adrain Darya based on the Persian word for sea.

"We will not stand by and allow Iran - or anyone - to bypass vital European Union sanctions on a regime that has deployed chemical weapons against its own people", the spokesperson said.

The news came hours after Gibraltar rejected a final USA request to detain the oil Grace 1 - now renamed by Iran as Adrian Darya 1 - any longer.

Gibraltar said today it could not comply with that request because it was bound by European Union law.

The sanctions violations charged in the USA warrant "would not constitute offenses had they occurred in Gibraltar", the government said in a statement.

Gibraltar lifted a detention order on the vessel on Thursday but its fate was further complicated by the United States, which made a last-ditch legal appeal to hold it. Washington is seeking to take control of the oil tanker, all of the petroleum aboard and Dollars 995,000, unsealed court documents showed.

Gibraltar's government announced this week it was releasing the supertanker despite pressure from the USA for the vessel's continued detainment.

Iran has denied the tanker was ever headed to Syria.

But on Friday the US Justice Department filed a request to detain the ship alleging it was involved in supporting illicit shipments to Syria by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, listed as a terrorist group by Washington.

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It would therefore seem that after meeting all the requirements under its agreement with the Gibraltar authorities, the renamed Grace 1 would be ready to depart soon.

Photographs posted on social media showed the vessel, painted with its new name and flying the Iranian flag, being readied for departure by men in orange uniforms.

Gibraltar today rejected a United States demand to seize an Iranian oil tanker at the centre of a diplomatic dispute as it prepared to leave the British overseas territory after weeks of detention.

The US has obtained a warrant to seize the vessel over violations of American sanctions on Iran. The vessel's anchor was still down.

Iran subsequently detained the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero in what was seen as a tit-for-tat move.

Grace 1 is expected to be released from Gibraltar, but the United States intervened at the last minute.

The US demand for its seizure is part of the Donald Trump administration's efforts to intensify the effect of existing Western economic sanctions on both Iran and Syria.

Grace 1 is released from Gibraltar after a court order is made.

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