US issues warrant for seizure of Iranian tanker previously held in Gibraltar

The US Justice Department has issued a warrant demanding the seizure of an Iranian tanker previously detained in Gibraltar.

The warrant comes a day after a judge in Gibraltar ordered the release of the Grace 1, which has been held since July 4 under suspicion of transporting oil to Syria.

The US claims it can seize the ship and the 2.1 million barrels of oil it is carrying over alleged violations of terrorism statutes and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

But officials in Gibraltar have already allowed the Grace 1 to leave.

The detention of the tanker saw Iran later seize the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which remains held by Iran.

The Grace 1’s release comes after President Donald Trump pulled the US out of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers over a year ago, setting in motion a growing confrontation between Tehran and the West over its atomic programme.

The Justice Department noted: “A seizure warrant is merely an allegation.”

Neither Tehran nor London have responded to the warrant.

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