US issues warrant to seize Iranian tanker off Gibraltar
The Grace 1 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 Syria.
Gibraltar lifted the detention order on Thursday after the British territory’s chief minister said he had secured written assurances from Tehran that the cargo would not go to Syria.
But 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 organization.
A federal court in Washington issued a warrant to seize the tanker, the oil it carries and nearly $1 million.
“A network of front companies allegedly laundered millions of dollars in support of such shipments,” the US attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessie Liu, said in a news release.
“The scheme involves multiple parties affiliated with the IRGC and furthered by the deceptive voyages of the Grace 1.”
Iranian 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.