Gibraltar rejects US request to seize Iranian tanker now called ‘Adrian Darya-1’

The Iranian flag flies at oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, previously named Grace 1, as sits anchored in the Strait of Gibraltar on Sunday, August 18, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 18 August 2019

Gibraltar rejects US request to seize Iranian tanker now called ‘Adrian Darya-1’

  • British Royal Marines seized the vessel in Gibraltar in July on suspicion that it was carrying oil to Syria
  • Gibraltar lifted a detention order on the vessel on Thursday but its fate was further complicated by the US

GIBRALTAR: Gibraltar refused a US request to seize the Iranian tanker Grace 1 on Sunday, saying it was unable to comply because it was bound by European Union law.

A federal court in Washington on Friday issued a warrant for the seizure of the tanker, the oil it carries and nearly $1 million. British Royal Marines had detained the vessel in Gibraltar in July on suspicion that it was carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

"The Central Authority's inability to seek the Orders requested is a result of the operation of European Union law and the differences in the sanctions regimes applicable to Iran in the EU and the US," a Gibraltar government statement said.

"The EU sanctions regime against Iran – which is applicable in Gibraltar - is much narrower than that applicable in the US."

The tanker raised an Iranian flag and and had a new name painted on its side, Reuters images of the stationary vessel filmed off Gibraltar showed on Sunday.

The Iranian tanker caught in a stand-off between Tehran and the West is expected to leave Gibraltar on Sunday night, Iran's ambassador to Britain tweeted on Sunday. 

"The vessel is expected to leave tonight," envoy Hamid Baeidinejad said on Twitter, adding that two engineering teams had been flown to Gibraltar.

Video footage and photographs showed the tanker flying the red, green and white flag of Iran and bearing the new name of ‘Adrian Darya-1’ painted in white on its hull. Its previous name, ‘Grace 1’, had been painted over. The vessel’s anchor was still down.

The Grace 1 had originally flown the Panamian flag but Panama’s Maritime Authority said in July that the vessel had been de-listed after an alert that indicated the ship had participated in or was linked to terrorism financing.

Gibraltar lifted a detention order on the vessel on Thursday but its fate was further complicated by the United States, which made a last-ditch legal appeal to hold it.

The initial impounding of the Grace 1 kicked off a sequence of events that saw Tehran seize a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf two weeks later, heightening tension on a vital international oil shipping route.

That tanker, the Stena Impero, is still detained.

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.


Lebanon security forces face off against protesters near parliament building in Beirut

Updated 32 min 54 sec ago

Lebanon security forces face off against protesters near parliament building in Beirut

  • 75 protesters have been injured
  • The latest clashes this week come after recent cooling of tensions in Lebanese capital

BEIRUT: Security personnel fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters armed with little more than tree branches and sign posts in Beirut on Saturday in clashes near Lebanon’s parliament.

According to a Red Cross statement issued on Saturday, 75 protesters have been injured during the standoff with security forces.

The latest clashes come after a cooling of tensions in the Lebanese capital, after largely peaceful protests which broke out across the country in October over the state of the economy turned increasingly violent, but people have filled the streets again this week.

They are furious at a ruling elite that has steered the country toward its worst economic crisis in decades.

Police wielding batons and firing tear gas have wounded dozens of people at protests in recent days. Anger at the banks — which have curbed people’s access to their savings — started to boil over, with protesters smashing bank facades and ATMs on Tuesday night.

Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces said on Saturday that police in Beirut were being “violently and directly” confronted at one of the entrances to the parliament. In a tweet, it called on people to leave the area for their own safety.

Witnesses said they saw young men hurling stones and flower pots toward riot police, while protesters tried to push through an entrance to a heavily barricaded district of central Beirut, which includes the parliament.

Hundreds of protesters marched and chanted against in the political class in other parts of the capital. A large banner at one of the rallies read: “If the people go hungry, they will eat their rulers.”

The unrest, which stemmed from anger at corruption and the rising cost of living, forced Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri to resign in October. Feuding politicians have since failed to agree a new cabinet or rescue plan.

The Lebanese pound has lost nearly half its value, while dollar shortages have driven up prices and confidence in the banking system has collapsed.

(With Reuters)