Released tanker raises Iranian flag, changes name to 'Adrian Darya-1'

Released tanker raises Iranian flag, changes name to 'Adrian Darya-1'

Gibraltar's government said Sunday it was allowing the Iranian tanker's release because "The EU sanctions regime against Iran - which is applicable in Gibraltar - is much narrower than that applicable in the USA".

"The Gibraltar Central Authority is unable to seek an Order of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar to provide the restraining assistance required by the United States of America".

The Grace 1 is due to leave Gibraltar later on Sunday, Iran's United Kingdom envoy says.

Iran's ambassador to Britain, Hamid Baeidinejad, tweeted on Sunday that two specialist engineering teams were on their way to Gibraltar and said: "The ship is expected to depart tonight".

Formerly Panamanian flagged, the vessel now sails under the Iranian flag under the name Adrian Darya 1, with darya being the Persian word for sea.

Authorities in the British overseas territory have not confirmed its departure.

Iran has denied the tanker was ever headed to Syria.

A Gibraltar judge had ordered the Grace 1 tanker released, but the USA filed a request to detain the ship alleging it was involved in supporting illicit shipments to Syria by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, listed as a terrorist group by Washington.

A Gibraltar judge ordered the tanker released last Thursday, with Iranian officials saying a new crew had arrived to pilot the vessel - now renamed the Adrian Darya - and its 2.1 million barrels of oil.

According to the monitoring website Marine Traffic, the supertanker which had been detained since July 4 off the coast of Gibraltar lifted anchor Sunday evening around 2300 GMT and started sailing south.

The vessel had turned east as of early Monday, although its ultimate destination was unclear.

Gibraltar said on Sunday it could not comply with that request because it was bound by European Union law.

The Gibraltar government said that its investigations produced evidence confirming that at the time of its detention the Grace 1 was "indeed carrying its cargo to the Baniyas refinery in Syria", which was in contravention of Article 14 of the EU Regulation on Sanctions on Syria.

The Gibraltar court ruled that the American sanctions on Iran, which were imposed by President Trump after he walked away from the Iran nuclear deal previous year, do not apply in the European Union. The Gibraltar government press office did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

European countries do not have sanctions against Iran but have had them in place against Iran's ally Syria since 2011.

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