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UK’s Prime Minister To Discuss Seized Iranian Oil Tanker With Gibraltar

Royal Marines

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, is discussing on Wednesday the issue with the Iranian oil tanker seized last week by Royal Marines and Gibraltar suspected of carrying crude oil to Syria in breach of the EU sanctions against Syria.

Prime Minister May and the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, will be discussing the issue with the detained oil tanker, Grace 1, that sparked another Iranian-West confrontation in the Middle East in the past days, Reuters quoted a spokesman for Theresa May as saying today.

In early July, Gibraltar, assisted by Royal Marines, detained a super tanker carrying crude oil to Syria because it had “reasonable grounds” to believe that the Iranian ship Grace 1 was violating European Union sanctions against Syria.

Shipping data that Reuters has reviewed suggests that the tanker en route to Syria was loaded with Iranian oil off the Iranian coast. 

If the tanker indeed loaded oil from Iran, it was not only in breach of EU sanctions on the Syrian entity owning the refinery believed to be the destination of the oil, but it also violated the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports.

Tensions between the UK and Iran quickly escalated after the seizure of the Iranian tanker, with Tehran threatening to seize a UK-flagged vessel, and last week trying to block a British-flagged oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz.

The UK will facilitate the release of the Iranian oil tanker detained by Gibraltar if Iran gave guarantees that the crude loaded on that vessel wasn’t bound for Syria, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said this past weekend.

After meeting with EU diplomats in Brussels earlier this week, Hunt said that “we support nuclear deal but there can be no ‘partial’ compliance. You are either on path to a nuclearised Middle East or not.”

“So whilst we seek to dial down tensions on Grace 1 we also expect progress in returning to JCPOA compliance. Remember not just Europe supporting it but Russia and China too,” Hunt added, referring to the nuclear deal, parts of which Iran has already breached.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 17 2019 said:
    The UK has no alternative but to release the Iranian tanker it seized last week in Gibraltar suspected of carrying crude oil to Syria in breach of the EU sanctions against Syria.

    Failing to do that will pose a permanent threat to British oil tankers and British sipping going to the Gulf particularly that Iran has threatened to seize a British tanker. Moreover, it is very costly for the UK to keep sending warships to escort these tankers to safety.

    The seizure of the Iranian tanker was made on the instigation of the Americans. The British have no business involving themselves in America’s escalating tension with Iran. They have nothing to gain from their involvement.

    Neither the United Nations nor Iran recognize the EU sanctions on Syria and therefore Iran will never give guarantees that the crude loaded on that vessel wasn’t bound for Syria.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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