Iran has warned the U.S. against attempting to seize an Iranian oil tanker in open seas after after its release from Gibraltar, Guardian reported.
The tanker, which has been caught in a standoff between Tehran and the west, was sailing for Greece on Monday, shipping data showed, hours after the British territory rejected a U.S. request to detain the vessel further. MarineTraffic reported its destination as the Peloponnesian city of Kalamata.
Asked whether the U.S. might renew its seizure request after the tanker sailed from Gibraltar, an Iranian foreign ministry said: “Such an action … would endanger shipping safety in open seas. We have issued a warning through official channels, especially the Swiss embassy.”
Switzerland represents U.S. interests in Iran. Tehran has no official diplomatic relations with Washington. The ship, formerly known as the Grace 1 but renamed by Iran as the Adrian Darya 1, is carrying 2.1m barrels of oil.
Royal Marines seized the vessel off Gibraltar on July 4, saying it was carrying oil bound for Syria in breach of EU sanctions.
That prompted Iran to seize the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero in the Gulf in retaliation a fortnight later, sparking a diplomatic crisis between the two countries. Britain responded by sending a second warship to the Gulf to offer greater protection to merchant shipping.
Iran has denied that its tanker was heading for Syria, and the vessel’s detention appeared to end last week after Iran gave a written commitment to Gibraltar that it would not sail to Syria or anywhere else covered by EU sanctions.
There was fresh legal uncertainty on Friday, however, when a federal court in Washington issued a warrant for the seizure of the supertanker, the oil it carries and nearly $1mn, saying there had been a breach of US sanctions against Iran.
The U.S. claims the tanker is controlled through a network of front companies by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which Washington designates as a terrorist organisation and is one of the targets of its sanctions.
Gibraltar said on Sunday it was unable to comply with the U.S. request because it was bound by EU law. “The EU sanctions regime on Iran is fundamentally different to that the U.S.,” Gibraltar said. The authorities also said the Revolutionary Guard was not designated a terrorist organisation under EU, UK or Gibraltar law.