Gibraltar Finally Releases Iranian Oil Tanker Held Since July

  • The capture of the ‘Grace 1’ tanker brought about tensions between the two states and two weeks afterward, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard captured the British tanker ‘Stena Impero’ in an apparent retaliatory move.
  • America's last minute efforts to compel Gibraltar not to release the supertanker hit a snag.
  • Tehran warned that it would deploy its naval fleet to escort the ship if necessary.

The Iranian oil supertanker Grace 1, recently renamed ‘Adrian Darya 1,’ finally departed from Gibraltar on Sunday night. The tanker is heading to a destination that is yet to be revealed, the information has been confirmed by shipping data and the local media. This is comes several hours after the British territory rejected a request from the United States to stop the ship from leaving.

On 8 May 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Following the U.S. withdrawal, the EU enacted an updated blocking statute on 7 August 2018 to nullify US sanctions on countries trading with Iran. U.S. sanctions came into effect in November 2018 intended to force Iran to dramatically alter its policies in the region, including its support for militant groups in the region and its development of ballistic missiles.

The Gibraltar authorities captured ‘Grace 1’ on July 4 on suspicion that it intended to take the oil that it is carrying to Syria, something that would have contravened the sanctions imposed by the EU against the Bashar al Assad regime. The capture of the ‘Grace 1’ tanker brought about tensions between the two states and two weeks afterward, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard captured the British tanker ‘Stena Impero’ in an apparent retaliatory move.

Sunday night, the supertanker left the dock of Gibraltar at 11 pm without specifications as to where it was heading. Iran’s ambassador to Britain, Hamid Baeidinejad, had previously confirmed on Twitter that the ship would depart on Sunday night, without giving further details. “With the arrival of two specialized teams of engineers in Gibraltar…the ship is scheduled to depart tonight,” he tweeted.

The ship could not leave Gibraltar before, thanks to Friday’s US order that imposed the confiscation of “the vessel, all the oil that it was carrying and $995,000 (about 896,896 euros)” due to repeated violations of the International Law of Emergency Economic Powers (IEEPA)

However, the Gibraltarian authorities declared themselves unable to comply with the seizure order issued against the super oil tanker, claiming that the United States issued this order under the sanctions imposed by Washington against the Iranian authorities, in the context of the dispute between the two countries, and restored after the US abandoned the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 with the Islamic Republic.

The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing multi-sided civil war in Syria fought between the Ba’athist Syrian Arab Republic led by President Bashar al-Assad, along with domestic and foreign allies, and various domestic and foreign forces opposing both the Syrian government and each other in varying combinations. The war is currently the 2nd deadliest of the 21st century.

“The EU sanctions regime against Iran – which is applicable in Gibraltar – is much narrower than that applicable in the United States,” the government said in a statement. Iran, for its part, has denied that the tanker was ever headed to Syria. Thus, Tehran warned that it would deploy its naval fleet to escort the ship if necessary. “The era of hit and run is over…if top authorities ask the navy, we are ready to escort out tanker Adrian,” Iran’s navy commander, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, was quoted as saying by a local media agency.

The initial capture of ‘Grace 1’ unleashed a diplomatic dispute following Tehran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker two weeks later. Since then, the two ships became pawns of a larger game, which has contributed to the intensification of hostilities. Iran has denounced US attempts to establish an international maritime security coalition in the Gulf and has insisted that the countries of the region could protect the strategic waterway and work towards the signing of a non-aggression pact.

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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