Business_news The Iranian supertanker detained by Britain over accusations that it was transporting oil to Syria has reportedly been released


The British territory of Gibraltar has released the Grace 1, the Iranian supertanker held since early last month.

The Gibraltar Supreme Court ruled on Thursday afternoon to release the Iranian vessel, which has been held by authorities since July 4, the government told business Insider in a statement.

The British Royal Marines seized the ship on July 4 under suspicions that it was transporting Iranian oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions — an act that has exacerbated tensions between the UK and Iran.

The Gibraltar chief justice’s decision came two days after the Iranian government formally assured Gibraltar’s chief minister — the head of the territory’s Government — that the ship, if released, would not travel to a destination that in breach of EU sanctions.

In other words, Iran has promised not to discharge its cargo to Syria.

FILE PHOTO: Oil supertanker Grace 1 sits anchored in waters of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar

It’s also not clear whether Grace 1 has set sail from Gibraltar yet. Authorities released the Grace 1’s crew, who are mostly Indian nationals, earlier in the day.

Earlier on Thursday, the US Department of Justice made a last-minute application to detain the Grace 1, the Gibraltar government said.

However, the application was not put before the Supreme Court on Thursday, the government said, adding that authorities will have to decide whether to refer that to separate proceedings.

It remains unclear whether the US will lodge another appeal to detain the ship.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a cabinet meeting in Tehran on July 3, 2019.
Iranian Presidency Office via AP

Britain’s seizure of the Grace 1 has exacerbated maritime tensions between the UK and Iran.

Fifteen days after the Grace 1 was taken, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz in an apparent retaliation.

Both sides have accused each other of illegally seizing the other’s tanker. The Stena Impero and its crew remain anchored at the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

Iran’s president last month suggested swapping tankers with the UK to end the hostilities, but the British foreign secretary rejected the idea late last month.

It’s not clear if Gibraltar’s decision to release the Grace 1 was tied to the tanker-swap idea.

Read More