Renaming supertanker not aimed to bypass U.S. sanctions: envoy

August 18, 2019

TEHRAN – Iranian Ambassador to London Hamid Baeidinejad has said the renaming of the Iranian oil tanker, Grace 1, has no relations with circumventing the U.S. sanctions.

“The renaming of the oil tanker carrying Iranian oil in Gibraltar sent out this false implication that this act was carried out for circumventing the sanctions,” Baeidinejad tweeted on Sunday.

“This is while this measure was necessitated after Panama’s objection to continuation of the oil tanker’s path under that country’s flag,” he added.

The Iranian ambassador underscored that the tanker is under no sanctions and is carrying oil under the permission of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).

In another tweet, the envoy said the oil tanker was registered under its new name, Adrian Darya, on July 15, which is more than a month ago.

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 on the pretext that the supertanker had been suspected of carrying crude to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against the war-torn country.

Tehran, however, rejected London’s claim, slamming the seizure as “maritime piracy”.

On Thursday, a Gibraltar judge ordered the release of the Grace 1, six weeks after it was detained, rejecting a last-minute legal move by Washington demanding that the ship remain detained.

However, the United States on Friday issued a warrant for the seizure of the tanker.

According to the warrant, the U.S. Department of Justice also ordered the seizure of $995,000 in an account at an unnamed U.S. bank associated with Paradise Global Trading LLC, which it called a shell company associated with businesses which act for the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

There was no immediate word from Britain or Gibraltar over whether they would act on the warrant, as Iran said it was sending a new crew to pilot the tanker.

“This U.S. complaint alleges that Iran has violated U.S. sanctions after the U.S. pulled out the 2015 nuclear deal last year,” said Al Jazeera’s John Hendren, reporting from Washington, DC.

On July 4, acting Spanish Foreign Minister Joseph Borrell said the seizure had followed “a demand from the United States to the UK.” On July 19, Reuters reported, “Several diplomatic sources said the United States asked the UK to seize the vessel.”

Lina Khatib, head of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, said the U.S. request on the Grace 1 was based on its own imposed sanctions on Iran, and not the EU's sanctions on oil exports to Syria.

MH/PA

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