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The United States has conveyed a “strong position” regarding any assistance to the now notorious Iranian tanker Grace 1, which left Gibraltar yesterday and is heading to Greece.
According to Reuters, which quoted a State Department official, the U.S. has warned the Greek government along with all ports in the Mediterranean that any assistance to the tanker, which has been renamed Adrian Darya 1, will be considered assistance to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. This in turn could have negative consequences since the State Department has designated the IRGC a terrorist organization.
While Iran has insisted that the Grace 1/Adrian Darya 1 did not carry oil for Syria, the U.S. has equally insisted it did. It was this fact that made the Gibraltar authorities detain the tanker in the first place. The detention led to a standoff between Iran and the UK, whose Royal Navy helped the Gibraltar authorities seize the Grace 1. Eventually, Iran responded with its own seizure of the British-flagged Stena Impero.
Despite the heightened tension between Tehran and London, talks evidently continued and led to the release of the Grace 1/Adrian Darya 1. Interestingly enough, Iran has yet to show readiness to release the Stena Impero.
This weekend, the Navy Commander of the IRGC, Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, said the two tanker seizures should be viewed as separate issues, suggesting that just because Gibraltar released the Iranian vessel did not automatically mean Iran would release the British-flagged tanker.
Indeed, while the seizure of the Stena Impero was widely seen as retaliation for the detention of the Grace 1, Iran explained its actions with an accusation against the British tanker that it had violated international maritime law in the Persian Gulf. Releasing it now would send the message it was in fact a retaliatory move and the law violation accusations were just a pretext.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.