- Title: Gibraltar lifts oil tanker detention order but ship's future unclear
- Date: 15th August 2019
- Summary: AT SEA OFF GIBRALTAR (AUGUST 15, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF IRANIAN OIL TANKER GRACE 1 ANCHORED OFF GIBRALTAR'S COAST
- Embargoed: 29th August 2019 19:38
- Keywords: Gibraltar Grace 1 oil tanker Iran Syria
- Location: AT SEA OFF GIBRALTAR / GIBRALTAR
- City: AT SEA OFF GIBRALTAR / GIBRALTAR
- Country: Gibraltar
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001ASBY6H3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Gibraltar's Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, said on Thursday (August 15) there were no longer grounds for the British territory to hold the Iranian oil tanker, Grace 1. But he did not immediately indicate when or if the ship would set sail after the United States launched a new, last-minute legal bid to hold it.
The vessel was seized by British Royal Marines off the coast of the territory on July 4, on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by taking oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran. Two weeks later, Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz leading into the Gulf.
Picardo decided to lift the detention order after receiving formal written assurances from Tehran that the ship would not discharge its 2.1 million barrels of oil in Syria.
"In light of the assurances we have received, there are no longer any reasonable grounds for the continued legal detention of the Grace 1 in order to ensure compliance with the EU Sanctions Regulation," Picardo said.
However, Gibraltar officials did not make clear whether the U.S. legal bid would mean the ship would have to be detained further or, if so, for how long.
Iran said the ship would sail shortly and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif characterised the U.S. bid to prevent it from leaving as "piracy".
Jalil Eslami, deputy head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organisation, told the semi-official Mehr news agency the Grace 1 would head to "Mediterranean ports", citing "an announcement by the owner of the tanker". Eslami did not identify the owner.
(Production: Marco Trujillo, Mariano Valladolid, Hywel Davies)
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