- On July 9, the Gibraltar government announced that with the help of British Navy, it seized Iranian oil carrier Grace-1 in the waters off the land and transferred it to its ports.
- Iranian officials denied the Gibraltar government's statements, saying the ship was not destined for Syria.
- Iran described the seizure of the ship as "for bias and without any real reason."
According to some reports, the Grace 1 oil tanker carries two million barrels of Iranian crude and has been seized for more than a month, “soon to be released,” and reports say that the tanker has changed its next destination. Deputy director of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization Jalil Islami said Britain was “interested” in the release of Iran’s seized tanker, adding that “documents have been exchanged between the two countries to help the seized vessel.”
Islami described the seizure of the ship as “for bias and without any real reason” and said efforts were being made by the government and port authorities to release the ship. He did not elaborate on the measures, but expressed hope that “the vessel would continue to operate under the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
He also said that “over the past two months there have been concerns about the circulation of oil vessels that were not related to sanctions and political issues but were dealt within political arena, while in the past it was a common occurrence.” He was apparently referring to news about the seizure of several ships carrying fuel in Iranian waters.
Earlier today, Reuters news agency reported that a spokesman for the Gibraltar government, which seized Grace 1 at its ports, said, “We continue to work to quell the controversy over Grace 1 tanker seizure.”
On July 9, the Gibraltar government announced that with the help of British Navy, it seized Iranian oil carrier Grace-1 in the waters off the land and transferred it to its ports. Officials in Gibraltar said the vessel was carrying EU-sanctioned oil for Syrian companies and was therefore banned. Gibraltar is one of the UK-dominated territories, a member of the European Union and subject to the implementation of EU approvals.
Iranian officials denied the Gibraltar government’s statements, saying the ship was not destined for Syria, though they declined to disclose its destination. They also said that the tanker was seized in international waters outside the territorial waters of EU member states and, as a result, even if its destination was Syria, Gibraltar was in breach of international law.
The government of Gibraltar called on the country’s judicial authorities to extend the detention of the tanker for another month for further inOn July 9, the Gibraltar government announced that with the help of British Navy, it seized Iranian oil carrier Grace-1 in the waters off the land and transferred it to its ports. vestigation, and the court agreed. US oil sanctions have made many Iranian oil dealers unwilling to buy oil from the country. For this reason, Iran has taken other measures to circumvent the sanctions, which are said to include shipping oil to international waters.
Hope to release the tanker
The grace-1 oil tanker was flying the Panama flag, but the government recently announced that it withdrew its flag from a number of Iranian-registered vessels. Shipping documents indicate that the tanker is not Iranian-owned and leased by Iran to carry oil.
Following the arrest of Grace-1 in Gibraltar, a number of Iranian officials spoke of retaliatory measures against Britain, and later, news sources reported that the Revolutionary Guards’ naval raids failed to seize one British oil tanker.
Islami also said in a speech today that the US plan to escort oil tankers while crossing the Strait of Hormuz has failed. According to him, only Israel has joined the plan.
Following a series of explosions and attacks on merchant ships in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, the United States called for the formation of a global coalition for military support for ships passing through the region. So far, Britain and South Korea are said to have expressed readiness to join the coalition and have backed Israel, and Japan has said it is ready to protect the area to help with maritime security in the region. Some EU member states earlier announced the formation of a European security force to escort merchant ships crossing the Strait of Hormuz.
More than one-third of the world’s oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, and the freedom of movement of oil tankers from the Strait is crucial to the world’s energy security. Following the resumption of US oil sanctions on Iran, some Iranian officials have warned that continued oil exports to other Gulf countries would be difficult if Iranian oil exports were cut. For example, President Hassan Rouhani said that “it doesn’t make sense that Iran can’t export its oil but others are able.”