Gibraltar rejects US request to seize Iranian oil tanker

A crew member raises the Iranian flag at Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1 before being named as Grace 1 as it sits anchored after the Supreme Court of the British territory lifted its detention order in the Strait of Gibraltar

An Iranian supertanker hauling $130 million worth of light crude oil that the USA suspects to be tied to a sanctioned organization has lifted its anchor and begun moving away from Gibraltar, marine traffic monitoring data showed late Sunday.

He said that Army is ready to dispatch a naval fleet to escort the released oil tanker back to Iranian waters whenever Iranian officials require. Its previous name, "Grace 1", had been painted over.

The Gibraltar authorities had said the tanker was en route to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions and had agreed to lift its detention order after formal written assurances from Iran that the ship would not discharge its cargo in Syria and therefore not be in breach of the European Union sanctions.

Commander of the Iranian Army's Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi announced on Sunday that Iran is not meant to escort Grace 1 but if need it is ready to safeguard the oil tanker to Iranian territorial waters.

An Iranian supertanker is free to go after spending some six weeks detained in Gibraltar, the government of the British territory said on Sunday.

Shortly after the tanker's detention in early July near Gibraltar - a British overseas territory - Iran seized the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which remains held by the Islamic country.

But late Friday, the United States intervened, issuing a warrant for the seizure of the ship and its cargo, claiming that the ship was violating not only USA sanctions against Syria, but also those against Iran.

Gibraltar's government said on Sunday it could not comply with the USA request because of European law.

It said: "The EU sanctions regime against Iran - which is applicable in Gibraltar - is much narrower than that applicable in the U.S.".

"The EU sanctions regime against Iran - which is applicable in Gibraltar - is much narrower than that applicable in the U.S.". "The era of hit and run is over. if top authorities ask the navy, we are ready to escort our tanker", navy commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency.

The tanker had been set to leave Gibraltar on Friday after the court lifted its detention order, but the captain and five crew members quit, requiring the ship's owners to recruit replacements.

That tanker, the Stena Impero, is still detained.

The Grace 1 had originally flown the Panamian flag but Panama's Maritime Authority said in July that the vessel had been de-listed after an alert that indicated the ship had participated in or was linked to terrorism financing.

Ties between Tehran and Washington have frayed since US President Donald Trump withdrew past year from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Iran, reimposing crippling unilateral sanctions.

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