08/16/2019, 10.58
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Gibraltar releases the Iranian oil tanker heading to Syria. Challenge the US

The ship had been seized since 4 July.  Yesterday the Supreme Court ordered the release, ignoring the warning from the United States.  The release could also mean onward passage for the British tanker stopped by the Pasdaran in the Strait of Hormuz.  Iranian minister:  acts of "piracy" by the US.


Gibraltar (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Iranian ship stopped in the waters of the Straits on 4 July last, accused of transporting crude to the  Syria is ready to leave the port of Gibraltar, having completed the procedures for the change of flag.  Yesterday, the local Supreme Court ordered the release of the Iranian oil tanker, effectively ignoring the warning of the United States calling for the vessel to be stopped.

The written reassurance of Iran to the Gibraltar authorities, which states that the ship will not head for countries "subject to EU sanctions" lead to the court decision.

According to reports from Jalil Eslami, head of the Iranian Department of Ports and Navigation, "based on the owner's request, the Grace 1 tanker (pictured) will leave for the Mediterranean after completing the flag change procedures".  The vehicle will be renamed "Adrian Darya" and is ready to resume its journey.

Yesterday the Gibraltar judiciary had granted (the former) Grace 1 permission to leave the port, unblocking a story that had been dragging on for weeks and triggered the response of the ayatollahs, who had seized a British ship in the Gulf waters.  The Iranian oil tanker was blocked at the gates of the Mediterranean by the British Navy following a US report, with the accusation of violating Washington's embargo on Damascus and the government of Bashar al-Assad.

According to analysts and experts, the departure of the vessels could also unblock the story of the Stena Empire, the British tanker docked in mid-July in the Strait of Hormuz, as a warning by Tehran towards London.  In the background remains the latent conflict triggered by US President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ​​agreed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, which was followed by the toughest sanctions in history against Iran. 

Local sources report that the release of the Iranian ship was uncertain until the last minute: the US Department of Justice had in fact filed an application to the Gibraltar authorities, to keep the tanker in a state of detention.  However, the local press states that the appeal was never  presented formally to the competent courts.

Iran confirms that the vehicle is ready and will start again soon.  And the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic Mohammad Javad Zarif does not spare a jab at the White House, stressing that the US attempt to block navigation is an act of "piracy".

The confiscation of Grace 1 in Gibraltar had triggered a serious diplomatic crisis between London and Tehran, intensified on 19 July when a British-flagged oil tanker - owned by Sweden - was blocked by the Pasdaran (Guardians of the revolution).  In the last few days contacts between the two governments have been strengthened and the turn of the last hours could finally pave the way for the departure of the Stena empire from Iranian waters.

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