The Gibraltar authorities on Thursday (August 15th) announced the lifting of the Iranian tanker Grace 1's standstill order, despite an attempt to block the United States. The vessel which had been boarded on 4 July is therefore allowed to leave the waters of this British territory at the southern tip of Spain. The authorities explain that they received written assurances that the ship would not violate the sanctions imposed on Syria by the EU.
" In the light of the assurances we have received, there is no longer any legal reason to maintain the legal immobilization of Grace 1," said Fabian Picardo, chief of the British territory's autonomous executive.
It was the Supreme Court of Gibraltar that allowed the Iranian oil tanker to leave British territory despite the US request to prolong the detention of the vessel, which was suspected of wanting to deliver its cargo of oil to Syria .
Iran has guaranteed in writing that the cargo of Grace 1 would not be sent to Syria, hit by an embargo from the European Union, and the Government of Gibraltar therefore asked the Court to lift the detention in a document rendered public. " The ship is no longer detained, " said the President of the Court, Judge Anthony Dudley. On the other hand, he stated that he had not been seized in writing of a US request to detain the tanker, announced in the morning by the public prosecutor of Gibraltar.
The decision of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar does not preclude the United States from making its subsequent application to block the vessel before it leaves the territorial waters of Gibraltar in the hours or days to come.
The Iranian oil tanker was seized on July 4 off the Rock of Gibraltar by the forces of the Royal Marines, allies of the United States, causing a new bout of tension with Iran. Tehran had demanded his " immediate release " stating that his tanker had been boarded in international waters and especially that it had been intercepted at the request of the United States. The head of the Spanish diplomacy confirmed that it is indeed the United States who asked for the boarding of the tanker.
US " piracy attempt " failed
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday that the release of the Iranian tanker demonstrates that the US " piracy attempt " has failed. " This attempt at piracy shows the level of contempt the administration (US President) Trump has for the law " he said on Twitter, adding that the United States had " tried to abuse the judicial system and steal (Iranian) goods on the high seas " through this case.
► See also: London to participate in the US maritime security mission in the Gulf