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Home » Gibraltar decides to free seized an Iranian tanker
Kuwait Times

Gibraltar decides to free seized an Iranian tanker

GIBRALTAR: Photo shows supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar. – AFP

LONDON: Gibraltar
decided yesterday to free the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, detained off the
British overseas territory six weeks ago by Royal Marines, paving the way for a
possible swap for a British-flagged tanker seized by Iran in the Gulf. The two
tankers have become pawns in the standoff between Iran and the West, their fate
tangled up in the diplomatic differences between the EU’s big powers and the
United States.

The Grace 1 was seized by commandos in darkness off peninsula on July 4. Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo decided to lift the detention order after formal written assurances from Tehran that the ship will not discharge its 2.1 million barrels of oil in Syria, but added that the ship had not yet been released. “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.

It was not
immediately clear when the Grace 1 would sail as the United States made a late
request to seize the vessel. “That is a matter for our independent Mutual
Legal Assistance authorities, who will make an objective, legal determination
of that request for separate proceedings,” Picardo said. The seizure of
the Grace 1 triggered a row with Tehran, which accused Britain of piracy. Two
weeks later, on July 19, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized the British-flagged
Stena Impero in the Gulf.

While both Britain
and Iran deny planning to swap the vessels, there has been a widespread
expectation that the British-flagged ship will not be freed until the Iranian
tanker is released. Iran’s ambassador to London, Hamid Baeidinejad, said the
United States was “desperately” trying to block the release but faced
a “miserable defeat”. He tweeted that the tanker would be leaving
Gibraltar soon. – Reuters

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