US Judge issues arrest warrant for Iranian tanker at Gibraltar

A federal court in the US capital Washington has issued an arrest warrant for the Iranian oil tanker seized by the United Kingdom at Gibraltar.

The government of Gibraltar removed the ship, the Grace 1, from the chain on Thursday after the United Kingdom seized it in July. The seizure caused a diplomatic conflict between Iran and the British.

According to the United Kingdom, the ship would transport oil to Syria in a way that would violate EU sanctions. Gibraltar released the ship when Iran guaranteed that Grace 1’s cargo would not end up in Syria.

The US Department of Justice requested permission to seize the ship, but the judge did not handle that request. Now the US has permission from an American judge to seize the ship, the oil on board and more than 1 million dollars (around 900,000 euros).

The US believes that the ship has links with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and considers the IRGC as a terrorist organization. The IRGC, together with other parties, would have laundered a lot of money with Grace 1 voyages.

Not yet clear how and who will execute the arrest warrant

Two weeks after securing the Grace 1, the IRGC confiscated a British tanker at the Strait of Hormuz. The British government calls this an unauthorized retaliation measure. According to them, the tanker, the Stena Impero, sailed through international waters.

The moment the Grace 1 was removed from the chain, the situation with the Stena Impero was still the same. The shipping company of the ship is waiting for the next steps from the UK and Iran.
Tensions in the Persian Gulf

Tensions in the Persian Gulf have increased in recent months. On May 8, 2018, the US withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Iran and European countries. As a result, strict economic sanctions against Iran returned to full force.

Almost a year later, on May 5, US security adviser John Bolton spoke of indications of an “unknown threat” in the Iran region. Allies from the US who are present in neighboring countries Syria and Iraq would be at risk.

A number of tankers were subsequently attacked in the area around the Strait of Hormuz. According to military experts and Western intelligence services, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is behind these attacks.

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