Gibraltar detains super tanker with Iranian oil
MADRID (AP) — Authorities in Gibraltar said they intercepted Thursday a super tanker believed to be breaching European Union sanctions by carrying a shipment of Iranian crude oil to war-ravaged Syria, while a senior Spanish official said the operation was requested by the United States.
Gibraltar port and law enforcement agencies, assisted by Britain’s Royal Marines, boarded the Grace 1 early Thursday, authorities on the British overseas territory at the tip of Spain said in a statement.
It added that the vessel was believed to be headed to the Baniyas Refinery in Syria, which is a government-owned facility under the control of Syrian President Bashar Assad and subject to the EU’s Syrian Sanctions Regime.
The EU, and others, has imposed sanctions on Assad’s government over its continued crackdown against civilians. They currently target 270 people and 70 entities.
Spain’s caretaker foreign minister said the tanker was stopped by British authorities after a request from the United States.
Josep Borrell told reporters in Madrid that Spain is assessing the implications of the operation because the detention took place in waters it considers its own.
Britain insists Gibraltar is part of the United Kingdom but Spain argues that it is not, and the tanker operation risks offending the Spanish.
“We’re looking into how this (operation) affects our sovereignty,” said Borrell, who was nominated earlier this week to become the EU’s foreign policy chief.