Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Gibraltar to detain Iran's supertanker for another month

Authorities granted more time to determine fate of Grace 1 vessel whose cargo was bound for Syria

The Grace 1 supertanker was intercepted by British Royal Marines and Gibraltar authorities on July 4.  AFP
The Grace 1 supertanker was intercepted by British Royal Marines and Gibraltar authorities on July 4.  AFP

Gibraltar's Supreme Court ruled Friday that a seized Iranian tanker suspected of breaching sanctions by shipping oil to Syria can be detained for 30 more days, the British territory's attorney general said.

The Grace 1 supertanker, carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil, was intercepted by British Royal Marines and Gibraltar's police on July 4 as it transited through waters claimed by Gibraltar, which is located on Spain's southern tip.

An initial order by the court authorising the detention of the vessel would lapse after Friday. The order can be renewed for up to 90 days.

"We look forward to continuing to work constructively and positively with officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran to facilitate the release of the Grace 1 pursuant to the satisfaction of all legal requirements," Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the territory's parliament.

Gibraltar officials have been in London this week to resolve the seized Iranian tanker crisis. Reuters
Gibraltar officials have been in London this week to resolve the seized Iranian tanker crisis. Reuters

Mr Picardo said Thursday he had a "constructive and positive" meeting with Iranian officials in London aimed at defusing tensions around the detention of the tanker in the British territory's waters.

Gibraltar and US officials believed the tanker was destined for Syria to deliver oil, in violation of separate sets of EU and US sanctions.

Iran has reacted with fury to what it termed "piracy" and warned it would not let the interception go unanswered.

Last week, a British warship in the Gulf warned off armed Iranian boats that tried to stop a UK supertanker. London has since announced the deployment of two more warships to the Gulf region for the coming months.

The Gibraltar court ruling comes as tensions in the Gulf region mounted Friday after Washington said an Iranian drone was destroyed after threatening an American naval vessel at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz.

It was believed to be the first US military engagement with Iran following a series of increasingly serious incidents.

Iran denied losing any drones.

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Updated: July 19, 2019 03:28 PM

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