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Gibraltar extends detention of Iranian tanker for 30 days

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Gibraltar’s Supreme Court has ruled that a seized Iranian oil tanker suspected of violating European Union sanctions on Syria can be held for 30 more days, the British territory’s attorney general has said.

The Iranian supertanker was seized with the help of the British Royal Marines earlier this month off Gibraltar’s coast over suspicions it was breaking sanctions by transporting oil to Syria.

“We look forward to continuing to work constructively and positively with officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran to facilitate the release of the Grace 1 pursuant to the satisfaction of all legal requirements,” Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the territory’s parliament on July 19.

Picardo said he met privately with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier this week in London to defuse tensions surrounding the seizure of the tanker.

Picardo said the meeting with Zarif “was both constructive and positive.”

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said over the weekend that Britain would “facilitate the release” of the tanker if Tehran provided guarantees that the vessel would not travel on to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

Earlier this week, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed that Iran will retaliate for the seizure of the tanker while accusing Britain of “piracy.”

The Gibraltar Supreme Court ruling came a day after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps claimed it seized a foreign tanker on July 14 with 12 crew members on board.

Iranian state media reported that the tanker was transporting fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers and was intercepted south of Iran’s Lark Island in the Strait of Hormuz.