EghtesadOnline: The detained Iranian oil tanker was preparing to set sail for the Mediterranean after Gibraltar ordered its release on Thursday.
"Based on the owner's request, the oil tanker Grace 1 will depart for the Mediterranean after being reflagged under the Iranian flag and renamed Adrian Darya after preparing for the journey," Jalil Eslami, deputy head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, was quoted as saying by state television.
The supertanker Grace 1 was seized by British Royal Marine commandos off the coast of the British overseas territory on July 4 on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by taking oil to Syria, which Iran denied.
Gibraltar lifted the detention order on Thursday after it said Tehran had given written assurances that the ship would not discharge its oil in Syria, Financial Tribune reported.
Iran's Foreign Ministry denied any commitment had been made, saying Iran has only repeated the same statements about the ship's destination.
"Iran has made no commitment for the release of the Grace 1 tanker. As we said earlier ... Syria was not its destination and we have upheld the same," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, Tasnim News Agency reported.
Iran's Embassy in London also published a note stressing that EU sanctions do not apply to Iran.
"As we have already announced in public, Grace 1 supertanker was not destined for an EU sanctioned entity. It remains the case. This is without prejudice to the generally recognized legal position that the EU sanctions cannot be applied on third parties," the note read.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif published the note on his Twitter account, stressing that the "detention was 100% unlawful".
US Last-Ditch Attempt
The United States is still seeking to extend the detention and has launched a new, last-minute legal bid to hold it.
"The US Department of Justice has applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations, which are now being considered," the Gibraltar government said in a statement, Reuters reported.
The Gibraltar Supreme Court has finally ruled to drop the detention order.
In a statement released to the media, the senior government official in Gibraltar, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, said, "There are no longer any reasonable grounds for the continued legal detention of the Grace 1."
Nevertheless, the US request is under consideration by the territory's government and the case "could go back to the court", according to Picardo who spoke to BBC Radio.
Iran’s top diplomat described the US attempt as "piracy".
"Having failed to accomplish its objectives through its #EconomicTerrorism—including depriving cancer patients of medicine— the US attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas. This piracy attempt is indicative of Trump admin's contempt for the law," Zarif wrote on his Twitter account.
The two countries have been in a standoff over the 2015 nuclear deal since US President Donald Trump quit the agreement and restored sanctions on Tehran.
Trump demands negotiations for a new deal while Iran refuses to enter into any talks while it is under pressure. Iranian officials describe US sanctions as “economic terrorism”.
Two weeks after the detention of Grace 1, Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in the Persian Gulf for violating maritime regulations. There has been no development regarding the vessel and it still remains in detention.