Gibraltar Rejects U.S. Pressure to Hold Iranian Oil Tanker

"The Gibraltar Central Authority [for Mutual Legal Assistance] is unable seek an order of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar to provide the restraining assistance required by the United States of America", it added.

Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 sits anchored after it was seized in July by British Royal Marines off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory, in the Strait of Gibraltar, southern Spain, August 15, 2019.

The trail left by Global Positioning System data on Marinetraffic.com, a vessel tracking service, showed the Iran-flagged Adrian Darya 1, previously known as Grace 1, moving shortly before midnight.

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 Republic.

On Saturday, the US Government obtained a warrant from a US court in a last-ditch attempt to seize the tanker, which has now been renamed Adrian Darya 1 and re-registered under the Iranian flag.

The US request came into conflict with the European Union law under which Gibraltar governs, and led "to the differences in the sanctions regimes applicable to Iran in the European Union and the US", it said in a statement on Sunday.

"The EU sanctions regime against Iran - which is applicable in Gibraltar - is much narrower than that applicable in the United States".

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The US claims the tanker is controlled by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, which is the target of its sanctions.

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.

The Iranian ship was detained while sailing under a Panamanian flag with the name Grace 1. The 28-member crew of the vessel include majority Indians of whom 3 are Keralites.

While the USA continues its attempt to try and seize the vessel, Britain maintains that the tanker must abide by assurances given to Gibraltar and not proceed to Syria. "Iran must abide by the assurances they have provided", a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said.

After a hearing in Gibraltar on Thursday, the local Supreme Court of the region ruled that the tanker should be released after formal written assurances from Iran that the ship would not discharge its cargo in Syria and therefore not be in breach of European Union sanctions.

Analysts had said the release of the Grace 1 by Gibraltar could see Britain's Stena Impero go free.

  • Sonia Alvarado