The local government of Gibraltar has refused a US request to seize the Iranian tanker Adrian Darya (formerly Grace-1), saying it was unable to comply because it was bound by European Union law.
“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 Sunday.
“The EU sanctions regime against Iran – which is applicable in Gibraltar – is much narrower than that applicable in the US.”
The statement came after 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 seized the Iranian oil tanker on July 4 off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory of Gibraltar on suspicion of violating EU sanctions by taking oil to Syria, which Tehran denies.
Gibraltar on Thursday released the tanker after a month, claiming that Iran has given written commitment it won’t deliver its oil to Syria. However, Iran says it has not given any promise, and that it is none of anyone’s business where it heads to.
The tanker’s release is expected to facilitate Tehran’s reciprocal release of a UK tanker it seized last month on charge of violating international maritime rules.
Iran renamed Grace-1 to Adrian Darya because Panama as the previous flag state of the ship had refused to continue to keep it registered after it was detained in Gibraltar for alleged breach of sanctions on Syria, said Iran’s ambassador to the UK.
“Renaming the tanker carrying Iranian oil created this wrong perception for some that the move was meant to circumvent the sanctions,” wrote Hamid Baeidinejad in a tweet.
He said that based on maritime regulations, a ship bears the flag of the country where it is registered and therefore, it should have a name chosen by that country.
“Naturally, with the registration of the ship in Iran, a new Iranian name was picked for it,” said the envoy, reiterating that the tanker is free from any sanctions and its oil cargo belongs to the National Iranian Oil Company.