DUBAI (Reuters) – The Iranian tanker caught in a standoff between Tehran and the West was sailing to Greece on Monday after leaving Gibraltar, shipping data showed, hours after the British territory rejected a U.S. request to detain the vessel further.
FILE PHOTO – A crew member raises the Iranian flag on Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1, as it sits anchored after the Supreme Court of the British territory lifted its detention order, in the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain, August 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jon Nazca
British Royal Marines seized the tanker near Gibraltar in July on suspicion it was carrying oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran, in violation of European Union sanctions. That led to heightened tensions on international oil shipping routes through the Gulf.
The Grace 1, renamed the Adrian Darya 1, left anchorage off Gibraltar around 11 p.m. (2100 GMT). Refinitiv ship tracking data showed early on Monday that the vessel was heading to Kalamata in Greece.
The tanker’s detention ended last week, but a federal court in Washington on Friday 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 had attempted 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.
Meanwhile, a senior Iranian lawmaker was quoted as saying that the 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. That came two weeks after Britain seized the Iranian oil tanker, accusing it of violating sanctions on Syria.
“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.
Iran has denied its tanker was ever headed to Syria.
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.
Reporting by Dubai newsroom and Harshith Aranya in BENGALURU; Editing by Neil Fullick