MNA – Reports say that as US issues warrant for seizure, the captain of the Iranian supertanker, Grace 1, no longer wants to keep command of the ship, which is in need of repairs that could impede its immediate departure from Gibraltar.
Any delay in the tanker’s departure could provide a window for the US to mount further action in Gibraltar seeking to seize the tanker amid a growing confrontation with Tehran, Independent reported.
The US Justice Department has issued a warrant to seize Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, a day after a judge in Gibraltar ordered it to be released.
The Grace 1 supertanker, carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil, was illegally detained by British Marines off the coasts of Gibraltar on 4 July.
Gibraltar’s government announced this week it was releasing the supertanker despite pressure from the US for the vessel’s continued detainment.
The US warrant unveiled on Friday read, “A seizure warrant and forfeiture complaint were unsealed today in the US District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that Oil Tanker “Grace 1,” all petroleum aboard it and $995,000.00 are subject to forfeiture based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), bank fraud statute, and money laundering statute, as well as separately the terrorism forfeiture statute.”
The US Justice also alleged that there had been “a scheme to unlawfully access the US financial system to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran.”
Britain’s naval forces unlawfully seized the Grace 1 and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil in the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4 under the pretext that the supertanker had been suspected of carrying crude to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against the Arab country.
Tehran, however, rejected London’s claim that the tanker was heading to Syria, slamming the seizure as “maritime piracy.”