Gibraltar decides to free seized Iranian tanker; U.S. seeks to hold it

By REUTERS
August 15, 2019 21:08
1 minute read.
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Britain's Mediterranean territory Gibraltar decided on Thursday to free a seized Iranian oil tanker, but did not immediately indicate when or if the ship would set sail after the United States launched a new, last-minute legal bid to hold it.

The Grace 1 was seized by British Royal Marine commandos in darkness off the coast of the territory at the western mouth of the Mediterranean on July 4 on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by taking oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran.Two weeks later, Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz leading into the Gulf.

The two tankers have become pawns in the standoff between Iran and the West, their fate tangled up in the diplomatic differences between the EU's big powers and the United States.

Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo decided to lift the detention order after formal written assurances from Tehran that the ship would not discharge its 2.1 million barrels of oil in Syria.

"In light of the assurances we have received, there are no longer any reasonable grounds for the continued legal detention of the Grace 1 in order to ensure compliance with the EU Sanctions Regulation," Picardo said.


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