Thursday, July 4, 2019

Britain/Gibraltar Detain Suspected Tanker Carrying Iranian Oil to Syria

Royal Marines board the Grace 1

UPDATE 2: Iran responds

It really appears as though the US and its lapdog allies are determined to provoke Iran into a serious hostile act.

British Royal Marines and Gibraltar police have seized a supertanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, reports the Financial Times.

Shipbrokers and tanker tracking data indicate that the oil on board Grace 1, a Panamanian-flagged vessel with a capacity of 2m barrels, is from Iran.

“We have detained the vessel and its cargo,” Gibraltar's chief minister Fabian Picardo said in a statement. “That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria.”

FT adds:
According to a person familiar with the operation, the chief marshal of Gibraltar requested assistance from the UK’s ministry of defence on Tuesday. Thirty Royal Marines were dispatched from Devon to help with the operation...
Shipbrokers said Grace 1 loaded Iranian light-grade crude off Kharg Island in the Persian Gulf on April 7. It then remained in place off Fujairah, on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates. Data showed the cargo on board had changed to fuel oil. It departed the region in mid-May, sailing round the Cape of Good Hope towards Gibraltar. “She’s been sailing very slowly for the last six weeks,” said one shipbroker.
Supertankers are too large to transit the narrow Suez Canal, leading Grace 1 to make the long journey via South Africa and Gibraltar through the Mediterranean Sea.

Acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said Gibraltar detained the supertanker after a request by the United States to Britain.


(Via the BBC)

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi is quoted as saying the UK's ambassador in Tehran, Robert Macaire, had been summoned over the "illegal seizure" of the tanker.

In a brief interview for Iranian TV's Channel Two, Mousavi said the seizure was "a form of piracy" and did not have any legal and international basis. He called for the tanker to be immediately released to continue its journey.

He added that "the move indicated that the UK follows the hostile policies of the US, which is unacceptable for the Iranian nation and government".

More analysis at the EPJ Daily Alert.