Zarif Slams US 'Piracy' Bid To Seize Grace 1 Tanker Hours Before Vessel Freed In Gibraltar

Zarif Slams US 'Piracy' Bid to Seize Grace 1 Tanker Hours Before Vessel Freed in Gibraltar

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has slammed the United States' alleged last ditch attempt to seize the Islamic republic's impounded Grace 1 oil tanker hours before Gibraltar ruled to set it free as a "piracy attempt."

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 15th August, 2019) Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has slammed the United States' alleged last ditch attempt to seize the Islamic republic's impounded Grace 1 oil tanker hours before Gibraltar ruled to set it free as a "piracy attempt."

Earlier on Thursday, the authorities of Gibraltar ruled to release the tanker, which was captured on July 4 on suspicion of transporting oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. According to the Gibraltar Chronicle newspaper, the US Department of Justice sought to seize Grace 1 mere hours before Gibraltar was poised to set it free. The vessel, however, was still released, albeit a few hours after the supertanker's captain and three crew members were freed.

"Having failed to accomplish its objectives through its #EconomicTerrorism � including depriving cancer patients of medicine � the US attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas.

This piracy attempt is indicative of Trump admin's contempt for the law," Zarif wrote on Twitter.

The tanker was formally detained on suspicion of breaching EU sanctions against Syria. Acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, however, claimed that the vessel was detained at the request of the United States, which has long been seeking to drive Iranian oil exports to zero. At the same time, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi denied the information that the detained tanker had transported oil to Syria.

Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo made the decision to set the tanker free after Iran provided his government with written guarantees that the vessel's cargo would not be delivered to Syria, the Gibraltar Chronicle newspaper reported.

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