Just hours before the Gibraltar Government was poised to release the Iranian supertanker on Thursday, the United States applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations.
“This piracy attempt is indicative of Trump admin’s contempt for the law,” Iran’s top diplomat stated, adding that the US effort to prevent release of the Iranian tanker was aimed at abusing “the legal system to steal our property on the high seas”.
Having failed to accomplish its objectives through its #EconomicTerrorism—including depriving cancer patients of medicine— the US attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas.
This piracy attempt is indicative of Trump admin’s contempt for the law.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) August 15, 2019
Authorities in Gibraltar finally released the Iranian oil tanker on Thursday, ignoring the US request to detain the vessel for a further period.
Following the decision by the Gibraltar court, Iran’s Ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad also said the US effort to press the government of Gibraltar to transfer control of the vessel to Washington had failed.
“The US, with its desperate, last-minute efforts, intended to prevent the release of the [Grace 1] oil tanker from detention, and was faced with humiliation,” Baeidinejad added.
The envoy stated that all preliminary steps have been taken to ensure the tanker’s movement toward free waters and “the vessel will soon leave the Gibraltar region”.
In early July, British marines and Gibraltar police seized the Iranian tanker off the Southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula, claiming that the ship was transporting crude oil to Syria “in violation” of the EU sanctions placed on Damascus. Washington had applauded the move, hailing it as a sign that Europe is on board with the US unilateral sanctions against Tehran.
Iran had condemned the “illegal move” of London and described it as “tantamount to piracy”. Tehran accused the UK of doing Washington’s bidding and helping the US attempt to stifle the Islamic Republic’s oil exports, rejecting London’s claim that the supertanker was carrying crude for Syria.