For location, see maps in
dated 4 July 2019, which says:
Last night, we tracked the Iranian VLCC supertanker GRACE 1 into Gibraltar’s waters. This vessel departed Iran on April 17th, 2019 and we have strong reasons to believe she is carrying fuel oil as opposed to crude oil. This morning, authorities in Gibraltar issued a written and video statement about their detention of this vessel after Royal Marines boarded her. It is still unclear if they boarded the vessel in EU waters or international waters. We’re still waiting for a confirmation on that.
For location, see map in this article, dated 5 July 2019, which says:
The Grace 1 was halted in the early hours of Thursday by police and customs agencies in Gibraltar, aided by a detachment of British Royal Marines.
The ship was detained 4km south of Gibraltar in what it considers British waters, although Spain, which lays claim to the territory, says they are Spanish.
Iran insists the vessel was intercepted in international waters and the foreign ministry official accused Britain's Royal Navy of taking action "tantamount to martime banditry".
"Britain has no right to impose its own unilateral sanctions or those of the European Union in an extraterritorial manner against the other countries," the official said.
The Gibraltar authorities say the tanker was boarded when it slowed down in a designated area used by shipping agencies to ferry goods to vessels.
Gibraltar extended ship-seizure powers day before tanker interception
The new regulation, introduced on July 3, allows Gibraltar to designate and detain ‘specified ships’ for up to 72 hours if the chief minister has reasonable grounds to suspect a breach of EU regulations
Crucially, Grace 1 can be held until any other legal proceedings in other jurisdictions against the owners of the cargo or tanker are settled. The seizure has triggered a diplomatic row between the UK and Iran, amid claims the detention was done at the behest of the US
John Bolton, White House national security adviser and notorious Iraq-era hawk, is a man on a mission. Given broad latitude over policy by Donald Trump, he is widely held to be driving the US confrontation with Iran. And in his passionate bid to tame Tehran, Bolton cares little who gets hurt – even if collateral damage includes a close ally such as Britain.
So when Bolton heard British Royal Marines had seized an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar on America’s Independence Day, his joy was unconfined. “Excellent news: UK has detained the supertanker Grace I laden with Iranian oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions,” he exulted on Twitter.
Bolton’s delighted reaction suggested the seizure was a surprise. But accumulating evidence suggests the opposite is true, and that Bolton’s national security team was directly involved in manufacturing the Gibraltar incident. The suspicion is that Conservative politicians, distracted by picking a new prime minister, jockeying for power, and preoccupied with Brexit, stumbled into an American trap.
In his statement to MPs on Monday, Hunt vigorously defended the British decision to seize an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar on 4 July, insisting Britain – in cooperation with the US – had established that the ship entered British waters and was bound for Syria in breach of EU sanctions.
Iran says it is not party to EU sanctions on Syria, and points out that no ship previously heading for Syria has been impounded in this way. Iran claims the UK has in effect ended up supporting the US efforts to impose an Iranian oil export ban, a measure that the UK formally opposes as a supporter of the 2015 nuclear deal.
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