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Day after Gibraltar releases Iranian tanker, US issues warrant to seize it

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Washington | August 17, 2019 5:11:23 AM IST
A day after Gibraltar released a detained Iranian oil tanker, the United States on Friday issued a warrant to seize the vessel for violating international law by allegedly making illicit shipments to Syria.

Earlier, Washington had asked the Gilbraltar authorities to hand over the ship to the US.

"A seizure warrant and forfeiture complaint were unsealed today in the US District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that Oil Tanker 'Grace 1,' all petroleum aboard it and $995,000.00 are subject to forfeiture based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), bank fraud statute, and money laundering statute, as well as separate the terrorism forfeiture statute," Sputnik quoted US Justice Department statement.

Grace 1 was seized off the shore of Gibraltar, a semiautonomous British territory, by British Royal Marines last month. The British alleged that Iran breached sanctions by exporting crude oil to Syria, reported Al Jazeera.

In retaliation, Tehran quickly seized the British-flagged tanker, Steno Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz.

A court in Gibraltar ruled last month that detained Iranian vessel can be held for an additional 30 days, the period which ended on Sunday. The next hearing was scheduled for Thursday morning.

However, when the hearing started, Gibraltar official revealed about the US' request to seize the Grace 1.

"The U.S. Department of Justice has applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations which are now being considered," the Gibraltar government said in a brief statement.

However, the tanker was released.

Iran and the US are at the loggerhead since US President Donald Trump in 2018 decided to withdraw from the 2015 Nuclear deal. Trump has accused Iran of not following the terms of the deal. (ANI)

 
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