image Photo: Reuters

U.S.: Grace 1 Vessel used by IRGC to Transfer Oil to Syria

Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo announced that assurances from Tehran nullified the continued detention of the Iranian vessel, although a new American request for a separate legal procedure forced a delay in its release.  According to Gibraltar’s Chief Minister: ‘’On the 13th of August I received written assurances from the Republic of Iran that, if released, the destination of the Grace 1 would not be an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions. I welcomed that assurance. This is an important material change in the destination of the vessel and the potential beneficiary of its cargo.” / ”In light of the assurances we have received there are no longer any reasonable grounds for the continued legal detention of the Grace 1 in order to ensure compliance with the EU sanctions regulation. With effect from today I have therefore revoked the specification of the vessel. Separately the United States Department of Justice has requested a new legal procedure for the detention of the vessel that should be commenced. This is a matter for our independent Mutual Legal Assistance authorities who will make an objective legal determination of that request for separate proceedings.”

It remains unclear what the fate of the Iranian oil tanker may be. In a statement released by the U.S. State Department, Washington warned that the Grace 1 is suspected as assisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps by transporting oil from Iran to Syria, which could result in serious consequences for any individuals associated with the vessel.

While the statement provided legal grounds for the vessel’s detention, it did not elaborate on possible actions that may occur if the tanker is released. It did underscore, however, that “the United States will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to deny Iran and its proxies the resources they need to engage in malign and destabilizing activities in Syria and elsewhere,” which “includes the full enforcement of U.S. sanctions with respect to Iran and the IRGC.”