Iran oil tanker: Gibraltar orders release

Gibraltar has released an Iranian oil tanker detained last month on suspicion of sanctions-busting despite a last-minute plea by the US authorities.

The UK territory received written assurances from Iran that the ship would not discharge its cargo in Syria.

Grace 1, carrying Iranian oil, was stopped by Royal Marines on 4 July, triggering a standoff with Tehran.

Gibraltar’s chief justice, Anthony Dudley, said no US application was currently before the court.

An independent legal body would make a determination on the American request, Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear when the tanker would put out to sea.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif condemned the US attempt to stop the tanker, accusing the Trump administration of attempted “piracy”.

A couple of weeks after the Iranian tanker was stopped, Iran seized a British-flagged tanker, the Stena Impero, in the Gulf and, despite official denials, there has been speculation of a swap if the Grace 1 is freed.

Relations between the US and Iran have deteriorated sharply since US President Donald Trump took office in 2017, with the two countries coming close to armed conflict in June.