Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi says the country has given no commitments to gain the release of its supertanker from detention in Gibraltar, and the claims made by Gibraltar are aimed at saving face.
“Iran has made no commitment for the release of the Grace 1 tanker,” Mousavi said on Friday, denying reports that Tehran has given written promise that the Grace-1 oil tanker will not berth at a Syrian port in violation of the EU sanctions.
“As we said earlier … Syria was not its destination and we have upheld the same … and reiterated that it was nobody’s business even if it was Syria,” Mousavi said.
His comments came after Fabian Picardo, chief minister for the British territory, said the detention order was lifted after written assurances from Tehran that the ship would not discharge oil in Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.
“They have made such claims in order to save face,” Mousavi said.
He also stressed that the country will continue to sell its oil to any of its old and new customers.
On Friday, the supertanker Grace-1 was renamed to “Adrian Darya” and reflagged under the Iranian flag upon the ship owner’s request, a senior Iranian official said, as the vessel prepares to leave Gibraltar.
“Based on the owner’s request, the oil tanker Grace 1 will depart for the Mediterranean after being reflagged under the Iranian flag and renamed Adrian Darya after preparing for the journey,” Iran’s state TV quoted Jalil Eslami, deputy head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organisation, as saying.
“The 25-member crew will start their journey after preparations, including refueling,” Eslami said.
The Grace-1 was seized by British Royal Marine commandos off the coast of the territory at the western mouth of the Mediterranean on July 4 on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by taking oil to Syria, a claim Iran has denied.
Britain’s Mediterranean territory Gibraltar decided on Thursday to free the Panama-flagged tanker, and announced that the vessel can set sail on Friday.
The release came after the United States launched a new, last-minute legal bid to hold it, but to no avail.