The Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 has set course for Greece, despite pressure from the Americans to keep the ship on the chain at Gibraltar. Ship data show that the tanker left last night and is en route to the port of Kalamata. The ship will arrive in about a week.
The Grace 1 was chained by the British Navy in July on suspicion of smuggling oil to Syria, an ally of Iran. That is contrary to European sanctions. Iran denies that the oil tanker was en route to Syria.
A US federal judge issued an order for seizure of the ship last week, the oil it carries and about $ 1 million. However, according to Gibraltar, European sanctions are much less stringent than those imposed by the US against Iran. For that reason, the ship could no longer be held.
Iran has warned the US not to make another attempt to seize the tanker.
“Such an action would jeopardize shipping safety,” said a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry. “We have issued a warning through the official channels.”
The seizure of the Grace 1 at the beginning of July led to a diplomatic crisis between Iran and Great Britain. Iran reacted to two British tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. The British subsequently sent several warships to the Persian Gulf to protect British interests.
The Netherlands has been asked by the US to send a frigate to that Strait of Hormuz. A decision will be taken this week.