US warns of ‘serious consequences’ after Iranian tanker released by Gibraltar

Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 sits anchored awaiting a court ruling on whether it can be freed after it was seized in July by British Royal Marines off the coast of Gibraltar, southern Spain, August 15, 2019. © REUTERS/Jon Nazca / Free

The US has said that “any individuals” associated with the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, which was released by authorities in Gibraltar on Thursday despite US pressure to keep it in detention, should brace themselves for “serious consequences,” such as being barred from the US.

In a statement on Thursday, the US State Department accused the vessel, seized by the UK outside of Gibraltar early July, of “assisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) by transporting oil from Iran to Syria” – despite written assurances Tehran gave Gibraltar that the tanker’s cargo of some 2.1 million barrels of oil would not be unloaded in Syria.

Washington, which formally designated the elite IRGC a “terrorist organization” earlier this year, noted that crew members of ships transporting Iranian oil may be “ineligible for visas or admission to the United States” under the terrorism-related provisions. Washington has long vowed to reduce Iranian oil exports to “zero,” having slapped the Islamic Republic with multiple rounds of crippling sanctions.

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