Iran claims UK will soon free supertanker seized off Gibraltar
search

Iran claims UK will soon free supertanker seized off Gibraltar

Grace 1 remains impounded after being seized by the Royal Navy on suspicion of delivering oil to Syria

The Grace 1 super tanker, suspected of carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, in the British territory of Gibraltar after it was detained, July 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Marcos Moreno)
The Grace 1 super tanker, suspected of carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, in the British territory of Gibraltar after it was detained, July 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Marcos Moreno)

A senior Iranian official has claimed that Britain will soon release an oil tanker that it seized last month amid escalating tensions between the Islamic Republic and Western powers.

Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency quoted Jalil Eslami, the deputy chief of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, as saying that following consultations between Tehran and London, the “Grace 1 oil tanker will resume operation under Iranian flag [sic] in international waters in the very near future.”

The Grace 1 supertanker, carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil, was intercepted by British Royal Marines and Gibraltar’s police on July 4 as it transited through waters claimed by Gibraltar, which is located on Spain’s southern tip.

According to Eslami, who provided few details about how or when the supertanker may be returned, there has been an exchange of unspecified documents between the two sides.

A US Marine observes Iranian fast attack craft from the USS John P. Murtha during a Strait of Hormuz transit, July 18, 2019. (US Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Donald Holbert)

Gibraltar and US officials believed the tanker was destined for Syria to deliver oil, in violation of separate sets of EU and US sanctions. The Iranians condemned the British move, terming it an “illegal interception.”

In what London called a “tit-for-tat” move, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards impounded a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz two weeks later.

Late last month, London announced that it is planning a European-led protection force in the Persian Gulf but emphasized that London was not seeking a confrontation with Iran and that such an undertaking would “not be part of the US maximum pressure policy on Iran.”

It later said it would join a US-led mission to protect cargo ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz.

Britain currently has two warships, the HMS Duncan and the HMS Montrose, accompanying UK-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz.

Tensions have risen in the Gulf since the United States decided in May 2018 to withdraw from a landmark accord to limit Iran’s nuclear program and began to reintroduce sanctions.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments