Published On: Sat, Aug 17th, 2019

Not so fast! US acts to seize Iranian tanker after UK’s ‘crushing failure’ | World | News

The move comes after a spokesman for US President lamented what he described as Britain’s “crushing failure” to deal with the situation adequately after a court in the British Overseas Territory agreed to lift a detention order preventing the Grace 1 from sailing. The was seized by British Royal Marines at the western mouth of the Mediterranean on July 4 on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by taking oil to .

Gibraltar scrapped the order on Thursday after Chief Minister said he had secured written assurances from Tehran that the cargo would not go to Syria.

However, with the vessel and its 2.1 million barrels of oil free to leave, the United States 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.

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 .”

The US State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how the warrant, which was addressed to “the United States Marshal’s Service and/or any other duly authorised law enforcement officer,” may be enforced.


The Gibraltar Chronicle newspaper reported that the vessel was unlikely to sail before Sunday, citing an unnamed source who added that it was waiting for six new crew members including a captain to arrive.

The had its name erased and it was no longer flying a Panama flag.

Iranian state television had quoted Jalil Eslami, deputy head of the country’s Ports and Maritime Organisation, as saying the tanker would depart for the Mediterranean after being reflagged under the Iranian flag and renamed Adrian Darya.

Mr Trump’s spokesman yesterday stoked tension with the UK by describing Britain’s approach as a “crushing failure of diplomacy”.

The aide said: “If our closest ally won’t help us with one of our top foreign policy objectives and stop millions of dollars for the , then something is deeply wrong.”

A British foreign office spokesman said in a statement: “We note the Government of Gibraltar has received assurances from Iran that the Grace 1 will not proceed to Syria.

“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.”

In a reference to Iran’s subsequent seizure of the UK-flagged on July 19, with the vessel still berthed in the port of Bandar Abbas, the spokesman added: “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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