US Threatens Individuals Linked To Iranian Grace 1 Vessel With Consequences

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US Threatens Individuals Linked to Iranian Grace 1 Vessel With Consequences

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 16th August, 2019) The US State Department threatened any individuals linked to the Iranian Grace 1 oil tanker with "serious consequences," including visa restrictions.

Grace 1 was captured by Gibraltar's authorities, supported by UK marines, off Gibraltar's coast on July 4 on suspicions of transporting oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. However, Madrid has claimed that the detention was carried out at the US request. The vessel was released on Thursday as Gibraltar's authorities received assurances from Iran that the tanker was not going to deliver its cargo to Syria. However, reports emerged that the United States sought to seize Grace 1 mere hours before Gibraltar was poised to set it free. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has slammed the United States' alleged last-ditch attempt to seize the Islamic republic's impounded oil tanker as a "piracy attempt."

"The United States assesses that the M/T Grace I was assisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) by transporting oil from Iran to Syria.

This could result in serious consequences for any individuals associated with the Grace I," the State Department spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus, said in a press statement published late on Thursday.

The spokeswoman specified that Washington would not issue visas, provide admission to the United States and revoke already issued visas held by crews of vessels supporting the IRGC, which is considered a terrorist organization by the country.

The United States would use all available resources to counter Iran and its proxies, Ortagus argued.

Washington and Tehran have been in conflict with each other since the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last year, re-imposing sanctions on the middle Eastern nation. The move was also followed by an escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf where several tankers had been attacked, prompting the United States to increase its presence in the area. Iran, in its turn, downed a US drone over the coastal Hormozgan area, prompting threats by the United States.

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