US slaps crew of Iranian supertanker with visa ban after it set sail from Gibraltar

Sailors walk on the deck of Grace 1 © REUTERS/Jon Nazca / Free

Hours after Washington failed to persuade the Gibraltar authorities to not release the Iranian oil tanker, the State Department warned that anyone linked to the vessel will not be able to travel to the US.

Unable to stop the Iranian supertanker Grace 1 from leaving Gibraltar, the US will target its crew, comprised of Indian, Filipino, Latvian, and Russian citizens. The sailors are now accused of aiding Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), labeled as a “terrorist organization” by the US.

“Crewmembers of vessels assisting the IRGC by transporting oil from Iran may be ineligible for visas or admission to the United States under the terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds,” a statement released by the State Department reads.

On Thursday, Washington unsuccessfully sought the seizure of the Grace 1, filing a request that formally postponed the lifting of Gibraltar’s detention order by a few hours. Iran’s ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad, called Washington’s move “its desperate, last-minute efforts, intended to prevent the release of the [Grace 1] oil tanker from detention,” which ended in “humiliation.”

Nevertheless, the authorities chose not to bow to the US pressure and allowed the Panamanian-flagged ship to finally set sail.

The Grace 1 was seized by the British Royal Marines outside of Gibraltar in early July, prompting Tehran to retaliate in kind by capturing a British-flagged vessel in the Persian Gulf two weeks later. The seizures added fuel to the simmering feud between Iran and the West, prompting the UK to seek to defuse the tensions.

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