Iran warns U.S. against interference as Gilbraltar releases oil tanker – AOL

Iran warns U.S. against interference as Gilbraltar releases oil tanker – AOL

DUBAI, (Reuters) — An Iranian tanker headed through the Mediterranean towards Greece on Monday after it was released from detention off Gibraltar, and Tehran said that any at U.S. move to seize the vessel again would have “heavy consequences.”

The Grace 1, renamed the Adrian Darya 1, left anchorage off Gibraltar about 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Sunday. Refinitiv ship tracking data showed early on Monday that the vessel was heading to Kalamata in Greece.

The seizure of the tanker by British Royal Marines near Gibraltar in July 4 on suspicion it was carrying oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions led to a weeks-long stand-off between Tehran and the West. It also heightened tensions on international oil shipping routes through the Gulf.

Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, lifted the detention order on Thursday but the next day a federal court in Washington issued a warrant for the seizure of the tanker, the oil it carries and nearly $1 million.

Gibraltar said on Sunday it could not comply with that request because it was bound by EU law. Washington wanted to detain the Grace 1 on the grounds that it had links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which it has designated a terrorist organization.

RELATED: Attack on oil tankers in Gulf of Oman

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Attack on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman

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An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP Photo/ISNA)

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 13: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks from the State Department briefing room on June 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. Pompeo said, “It is the assessment of the U.S. government that Iran is responsible for today’s attacks in the Gulf of Oman. These attacks are a threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable escalation of tension by Iran.” (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

An Iranian navy boat tries to stop the fire of an oil tanker after it was attacked in the Gulf of Oman, June 13, 2019. Tasnim News Agency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

A picture released by U.S. Central Command shows damage from an explosion (L) and a likely limpet mine, on the hull of the civilian vessel M/V Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman in the Arabian Sea, in waters between Gulf Arab states and Iran, June 13, 2019. Picture taken June 13, 2019. U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS- THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

This grab taken from a video released by the US Central Command (USCENTCOM) on June 14, 2019, reportedly shows an Iranian navy patrol boat in the Gulf of Oman approaching the Japanese operated methanol tanker Kokuka Courageous and removing an unexploded mine. (Photo by – / US Central Command (CENTCOM) / AFP) (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

An oil tanker is seen after it was attacked in the Gulf of Oman, June 13, 2019. Tasnim News Agency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

A handout photo made available by the Norwegian shipowner Frontline of the crude oil tanker Front Altair during the firefighting of the fire onboard the ship in the Gulf of Oman, June 13, 2019. Frontline/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY

Undated handout archive photo by the Norwegian shipowner Frontline of the crude oil tanker Front Altair, released June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers were hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman, shipping firms and industry sources said on Thursday, sending oil prices as much as 4% higher a month after four other tankers were damaged by limpet mines in the region. NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT.

Undated handout archive photo by the Norwegian shipowner Frontline of the crude oil tanker Front Altair, released June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers were hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman, shipping firms and industry sources said on Thursday, sending oil prices as much as 4% higher a month after four other tankers were damaged by limpet mines in the region. NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT.

Yutaka Katada, president of shipping company Kokuka Sangyo Ltd. points to a picture of their tanker Kokuka Courageous, one of two that were hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman, during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan June 14, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.

In this photo released by state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz have been reportedly attacked. The alleged assault on Thursday left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels. The U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (IRIB News Agency via AP)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks to the media at the State Department in Washington, DC on June 13, 2019. – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of being behind attacks on two tanks in the Gulf of Oman Thursday, and said it was taking the case to the UN Security Council.”It is the assessment of the United States that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks,” Pompeo told reporters. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)

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Greek authorities had no immediate comment on the situation.

Iran said on Monday any U.S. attempt to seize the tanker would have “heavy consequences.”

Asked whether the United States could renew its seizure request after the tanker sailed from Gibraltar, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said: “Such an action, and even the talk of it…would endanger shipping safety in open seas.”

“Iran has issued the necessary warnings through official channels, especially the Swiss embassy, to American officials not to commit such an error because it would have heavy consequences,” Mousavi said in remarks broadcast on state television.

Switzerland represents U.S. interests in Iran, which has no diplomatic relations with the United States.

Separately, a senior Iranian lawmaker said a crisis in Iran’s ties with Britain, which included Tehran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker last month, would not be over until the tanker reached its destination.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on July 19 seized the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz waterway for alleged marine violations, two weeks after the Grace 1 was commandeered.

“Until the Iranian oil tanker arrives at its destination the British must help end the crisis,” Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of parliament’s national security and foreign affairs committee, was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency.

“This means that the crisis with Britain is not over. Britain has the primary responsibility for ending the oil tanker crisis,” Falahatpisheh said.

Mousavi said that Tehran was waiting for a court decision on alleged maritime violations by the Stena Impero and he hoped the procedures would be completed as soon as possible.

Iran has denied its tanker was ever headed to Syria, a close ally of Tehran.

The two vessels have since become pawns in a bigger game, feeding into wider hostilities since the United States last year pulled out of an international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program and reimposed economic sanctions.


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