Gibraltar is ready to free the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, but the United States is not on the same page, as tensions remain high between Washington and Tehran.
The U.S. Department of Justice has issued a warrant to seize an Iranian oil tanker detained in Gibraltar, a day after a judge in Gibraltar ordered it released. In a court document obtained by Reuters, the U.S. said there was evidence that showed the tanker — which was seized by British Royal Marines in July — was taking oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions (an accusation Iran has consistently denied) and that the ship has ties to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the Trump administration designated a terrorist organization.
The warrant calls for the tanker and the 2.1 million barrels of oil on board to be seized and has also ordered the seizure of $995,000 from an account at an unnamed U.S. bank linked to Paradise Global Trading LLC, an Iranian company. The Justice Department said the ship was in violation of bank fraud, money laundering, and terrorism forfeiture statutes.
Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle Eastern politics at the London School of Economics, said "it would take a great deal of arm-twisting" for the U.S. to convince the court in Gibraltar to take the tanker back. Tim O'Donnell
Last Sunday, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that the Trump administration was prepared for unconditional talks with Iran, but Tehran made clear on Saturday that they aren't buying it, as tensions between the two countries refuse to cool.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said that the new sanctions the U.S. placed on Iran's largest petrochemical holding group, Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co., on Friday prove that the offer for talks was not genuine. The U.S. placed sanctions on PGPIC for "indirectly supporting" the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite Iranian military force that the U.S. recently deemed a terrorist organization.
"It was only necessary to wait one week until the claim of the president of America about talks with Iran were proven to be hollow," Mousavi said in a statement. "The American policy of maximum pressure is a defeated policy." Tim O'Donnell