Iran tanker in limbo as US issues warrant

Iran tanker in limbo as US issues warrant

Gibraltar - Gibraltar seized the ship on July 4 on suspicion it was transporting oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions.



By AFP

Published: Sun 18 Aug 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 18 Aug 2019, 12:49 PM

A last-minute US warrant to seize the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 preparing to leave Gibraltar after weeks of detention cast doubt over its departure on Saturday, prolonging a diplomatic spat between Tehran, London and Washington.
The US Justice Department alleged the ship was part of a scheme "to unlawfully access the US financial system to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps", which Washington has designated a foreign terrorist organisation.
There was no comment from Britain or Gibraltar, its overseas territory.
Any detention order would ultimately have to come from Gibraltar's Supreme Court. So far, that has not happened and the ship is still free to sail.
Richard de la Rosa, managing director of Astralship, the vessel's shipping agent, said the ship was preparing for departure. "Within the next two days, she'll be going," he said.
"They're performing crew changes. She needs some reprovisioning," he said, adding new Indian and Ukrainian crew members were due to arrive on Sunday.
Gibraltar seized the ship on July 4 on suspicion it was transporting oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions, triggering a sharp deterioration in relations between Tehran and London. Iran has repeatedly denied this.
Iran subsequently detained the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero in what was seen as a tit-for-tat move.


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