Gibraltar rejects US demand, Iran tanker departs

Last Updated: Aug 19 2019 19:27
Reading time: 1 min, 12 secs

The Iranian oil tanker at the centre of a diplomatic dispute has departed from Gibraltar.

The United States had demanded to seize the vessel which the British overseas territory had rejected.

According to the monitoring website Marine Traffic, the supertanker, which had been detained since July 4 off the coast of Gibraltar, lifted anchor Sunday evening and started sailing south.

Though, authorities in Gibraltar have not yet confirmed its departure.

Gibraltar seized the Grace 1 on July 4 on suspicion it was transporting oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions, triggering a sharp deterioration in relations between Tehran and London.

Supreme Court ordered the tanker released last Thursday, with Iranian officials saying a new crew had arrived to pilot the vessel now renamed the Adrian Darya and its 2.1 million barrels of oil.

But on Friday, the US Justice Department filed a last-minute request to detain the ship, alleging it was involved in supporting illicit shipments to Syria by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, listed as a terrorist group by Washington.

In its decision ordering the release of the tanker, Gibraltar’s government said it had received written assurances from Iran that the ship would not be headed for countries “subject to European Union sanctions”.

Iran denied it had made any promises about the ship’s destination to secure the release.

“Iran has given no assurances over the Grace 1 not going to Syria to secure its release,” a state media website quoted foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying.