Gibraltar turns down U.S. request to seize Iranian tanker

18 Août, 2019, 17:22 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • A crew member raises the Iranian flag at Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1 before named as Grace 1 as it sits anchored after the Supreme Court of the British territory lifted its detention order in the Strait of Gibraltar

Gibraltar has refused a request by the United States to seize an Iranian oil tanker at the centre of a diplomatic standoff between Tehran and Europe.

A federal court in Washington on Friday issued a warrant for the seizure of the tanker, the oil it carries and almost $1 million.

The Gibraltar government later confirmed that Washington had made a last-minute request to halt the release of the seized Iranian vessel on a number of allegations.

Gibraltar's government said it could not seek a court order to detain the supertanker because United States sanctions against Iran were not applicable in the European Union.

British Royal Marines seized the vessel in Gibraltar in July on suspicion it was carrying oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran, in violation of European Union sanctions.

Tehran, however, rejected London's claim that the tanker was heading to Syria, slamming the seizure as "maritime piracy".

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Iranian ambassador to London, Hamid Baeidinejad wrote on a Sunday tweet that the act of having the Iranian oil tanker, Grace 1, renamed is in no relation with skirting the U.S. sanctions, since the tanker is not sanctioned and sails under the aegis of National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).

Gibraltar's Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the release of the vessel after 43 days in detention. The vessel's anchor was still down.

Video footage and photographs showed the tanker flying the red, green and white flag of Iran and bearing the new name of "Adrian Darya-1" painted in white on its hull.

The initial impounding of the Grace 1 kicked off a sequence of events that saw Tehran seize a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf two weeks later, heightening tension on a vital worldwide oil shipping route.

The two vessels have since become pawns in a bigger game, feeding into wider hostilities since the United States past year pulled out of an worldwide agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program, and reimposed economic sanctions.

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