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Iranian tanker Grace 1 freed by Gibraltar

London, Aug 15 : Gibraltar on Thursday allowed a detained Iranian supertanker Grace 1 to leave the British overseas territory despite eleventh-hour efforts by the United States to halt the move, thus potentially defusing the  tensions between London and Tehran.
The Supreme Court in the British territory of Gibraltar approved the release of the Grace 1, which was impounded off the country’s coast by authorities on July 4.

Tanker was detained by authorities in Gibraltar with the help of Royal Marines on the suspicion that it was ferrying over 2 million barrels of crude oil to Syria in violation of European sanctions.

Gibraltar said Iran has assured that its cargo would not be taken to Syria.Gibraltar is a British overseas territory on the edge of southern Spain.

Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement issued to the press, “investigations conducted around the Grace 1 are a matter for the government of Gibraltar and that it couldn’t comment further.Gibraltar’s legal proceedings and the steps Gibraltar’s authorities have taken to prevent the ship’s cargo from reaching Syria in contravention of EU Syria Sanctions.UK Government noted that  Gibraltar has received assurances from Iran that the Grace 1 will not proceed to Syria.”

Two weeks later, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized the British-flagged Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz and accused it of “violating international regulations.” There have been six attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf region and  the U.S. has blamed on Iran.

UK issued a statement, “There is no comparison or linkage between Iran’s unacceptable and illegal seizure of, and attacks on, commercial shipping vessels in the Strait of Hormuz and the enforcement of EU Syria sanctions by the Government of Gibraltar. Freedom of navigation for commercial shipping must be respected and international law upheld.”

All 24 Indian crew members who were aboard the Grace 1 have been freed, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan tweeted today.

“Spoke to our High Commission @HCI_London on VLCC Grace 1. They confirmed that all 24 Indian crew aboard VLCC Grace 1 have been released by Gibraltar authorities and are free to return to India,”  Muraleedharan tweeted.

 

Arti Bali

Sr Journalist 

 

 

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