Published On: Sun, Aug 18th, 2019

Iranians change name of seized Grace 1 oil tanker in DEFIANCE of US warrant | World | News

Crewmen were seen painting over the ship’s former name as Washington launched a last ditch effort to prevent the vessel from leaving Gibraltar. The new name – Adrian Darya – means “sea”. Iran has not said when the tanker will leave but it could set sail as early today as chances of a fresh seizure appear to fade.

Jalil Eslami, deputy head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organisation, announced the Grace 1, which has been held by Gibraltar since July 4 is being renamed Adrian Darya and will now fly under an Iranian flag.

Mr Eslami said: “At the owner’s request, the Grace 1 will depart for the Mediterranean after being reflagged under the Islamic Republic of Iran’s flag and renamed as Adrian Darya for the voyage.

“The 25-member crew will start their journey after preparations, including refuelling.

“The ship was of Russian origin and Panama-flagged and is carrying 2 million barrels of Iranian oil.”

The tanker was seized by the Royal Marines at the western mouth of the Mediterranean on July 4 on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by transporting oil to Syria.

But Gibraltar lifted the detention order last Thursday after the British territory’s chief minister Fabian Picardo said he had received secured written assurances from Tehran that the cargo would not go to Syria.

But with the vessel and its cargo free to leave, the US officials launched a separate legal appeal to impound the ship on the grounds that it had links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which it designates as a terrorist organisation.

READ MORE: Drone attack: Iran-linked rebels bomb Saudi oil fields ‘Global threat’

A federal court in Washington issued a warrant to seize the tanker, the oil it carries and nearly $1 million.

US attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessie Liu, said: “A network of front companies allegedly laundered millions of dollars in support of such shipments.

“The scheme involves multiple parties affiliated with the IRGC and furthered by the deceptive voyages of the Grace 1.”

“Iran must abide by the assurances they have provided.

“We will not stand by and allow Iran – or anyone – to bypass vital EU sanctions on a regime that has deployed chemical weapons against its own people.

“There is no comparison or linkage between Iran’s unacceptable and illegal seizure of, and attacks on, commercial shipping vessels in the Strait of Hormuz and the enforcement of EU Syria sanctions by the Government of Gibraltar.”

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