Iranian tanker departs Gibraltar and enters international waters
An Iranian supertanker loaded with US $130 million worth of light crude oil departed Gibraltar late on Sunday after the US failed in its last minute attempt to get an EU court to impound the ship.
AIS data showed the Iran-flagged Adrian Darya 1, previously known as Grace 1, moving shortly before midnight. The tanker sailed south before steering eastwards toward a narrow stretch of international waters separating Morocco and the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula.
Iran’s ambassador to Britain, Hamid Baeidinejad, confirmed in a post on Twitter that the oil tanker was headed to international waters.
The vessel had been detained for a month in the British overseas territory for allegedly attempting to breach European Union sanctions on Syria.
Gibraltar authorities rejected an eleventh-hour attempt by the United States’ to reseize the oil tanker on Sunday, arguing that EU regulations are less strict than U.S. sanctions on Iran.
U.S. officials told reporters that the oil aboard the ship was worth some $130 million and that it was destined for a designated terror organization.
Gibraltar’s government said Sunday it was allowing the Iranian tanker’s release because, “The EU sanctions regime against Iran - which is applicable in Gibraltar - is much narrower than that applicable in the US.”
Unlike in the U.S., the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is not designated a terrorist organization under EU, U.K. or Gibraltar law.
The tanker’s release comes amid a growing confrontation between Iran and the West after President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers over a year ago.
Shortly after the tanker’s detention in early July, Iran seized the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which remains held by Tehran.
Analysts had said the Iranian ship’s release by Gibraltar could mean that the Stena Impero goes free.