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Pompeo regrets the release of the Iranian ship detained in Gibraltar

August 20, 2019

The Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo – REUTERS / POOL NEW – Archive

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 (Reuters / EP) –

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has lamented this Monday in an interview that the release of the Iranian ship held in Gibraltar since July.

“It is unfortunate that this has happened,” Pompeo said in an interview for the US network Fox News. The secretary of state said that if Iran succeeds in obtaining benefits from the oil tanker, its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps will have “more money, more wealth, more resources to continue its terrorist campaign.”

Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, renamed 'Adrian Darya 1', departed from Gibraltar this Sunday night in the direction of the city of Kalamata, in the south of the Greek peninsula of Peloponnese, several hours after the British territory rejected a United States request to stop the ship.

A senior State Department official said Monday that the United States has transmitted its “strong position” to the Greek government on the tanker.

He has also indicated that any effort to help the ship could be considered as material support for what the United States considers a foreign terrorist organization, which has possible criminal consequences.

The Gibraltarian authorities retained 'Grace 1' on July 4 on suspicion that he intended to bring oil to Syria, something that would contravene the sanctions imposed by the EU against the Bashar al Assad regime. Two weeks later, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard captured the British tanker 'Stena Impero'.

The ship could not leave before Gibraltar by a US order that imposed the confiscation of “the vessel, all oil on board and $ 995,000 (about 896,896 euros)” due to repeated violations of the International Law of Emergency Economic Powers ( IEEPA by its acronym in English) “.

However, the Gibraltarian authorities declared themselves unable to comply with the seizure order issued against this oil tanker, claiming that the United States issued this order under the sanctions imposed by Washington against the Iranian authorities, in the context of the dispute between the two countries, and restored after the US nation abandoned the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 with the Islamic Republic.

The initial embargo on 'Grace 1' unleashed a diplomatic dispute that escalated when Tehran seized a British-flagged tanker two weeks later. Since then, the two ships have become pawns of a larger game, which has contributed to the intensification of hostilities.

Iran has denounced the United States' attempts to establish an international maritime security coalition in the Gulf and has insisted that countries in the region could protect the strategic waterway and work to sign a non-aggression pact.