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article imageOp-Ed: Iranian tanker leaves Gibraltar in spite of US seizure warrant

By Ken Hanly     Aug 19, 2019 in Politics
Gibraltar - The Iranian oil tanker formerly the Grace 1 was seized back on July 4 off Gibraltar by UK marines allegedly on the request of the United State. Gibraltar announced it was free to leave as of Thursday but it left only on Sunday.
Gibraltar rejects US warrant to seize ship
The US warrant is described in a recent article: "The warrant, issued by a US federal court in Washington on Friday, is addressed to "the United States Marshals Service and/or any other duly authorized law enforcement officer".It called for the tanker and the oil on board to be seized. It has also ordered the seizure of $995,000 (£818,000) from an account at an unnamed US bank linked to Paradise Global Trading LLC, an Iranian company.The justice department said the ship and the firm had been involved in violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, bank fraud, money laundering and terrorism forfeiture statutes."
Tanker lost its Panamanian flag
Before it was seized off Gibraltar, the Grace 1 had already lost its Panamanian flag of convenience. This too is no doubt the result of US pressure. Usually the ship would very quickly get another flag of convenience but instead is now the Adrian Darya 1 flying the Iranian flag. Given Iran is sanctioned by the US which tries to implement them globally the ship may encounter problems as it sails under the Iranian flag. It may have trouble getting insurance from companies that work with the US.
Panama has deflagged numerous ships with Iranian and Syrian owners: "In the biggest cull, Panama, the world’s most important flag state, removed 59 tankers linked to Iran and Syria earlier this year, a decision welcomed by the United States which wants to cut off Tehran’s vital oil exports."
A recent report from Iran notes:" “Based on the owner’s request, the oil tanker Grace 1 will depart for the Mediterranean after being reflagged under the Iranian flag and renamed Adrian Darya after preparing for the journey,” Iran’s state TV quoted Jalil Eslami, deputy head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organisation, as saying. The 25-member crew will start their journey after preparations, including refueling,” Eslami said."
Tanker is now in international waters
The tanker left slowly stopping and restarting several times but is now in international waters. It is said to be bound somewhere in the Mediterranean to deliver the oil but not Syria. It may encounter problems wherever it docks caused by the US. Iran's Navy said it was prepared to send a military escort if necessary to prevent the ship being seize by the US. If it really intended to do that it should have had the ships there already for when the tanker was released. It remains to be seen if the US will directly seize the ship rather than use a proxy as it did with the UK marines in Gibraltar. If the US really wishes to reduce sanctions with Iran it will not take any action.
The appended video claims the tanker is headed for Greece.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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