TEHRAN, August 16. /TASS/. Tehran has not provided any guarantees that the Grace 1 supertanker will stay away from Syria following its release by Gibraltar’s authorities, spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry Abbas Musavi said on Friday.
"Iran did not give any guarantees that the Grace 1 tanker will not head to Syria," Iran’s Tasnim News Agency quoted him as saying. "Since the very first hours we have been saying that Syria is not the tanker’s point of destination and continue to say the same. However, even if it was heading to the Syrian Arab Republic, it would be exclusively our business."
Musavi recalled that "Tehran supports Damascus in all spheres, including oil and energy." "These activities are legal and no third country is involved in them. Iran will sell its oil to any customer, old or new," he underlined.
The Panama-flagged Grace 1 supertanker was detained by Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion that it was transporting crude oil to Syria in violation of sanctions. The UK Royal Marines took part in the operation. According to Gibraltar authorities, the 28 crewmembers, citizens of India, Pakistan and Ukraine, were aboard the tanker. Acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borell said that the vessel had been seized at the US request. Iran repeatedly voiced protests regarding the seizure, slamming it as an act of piracy.
On Thursday, Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo confirmed that the US request had been received to seize Grace 1, however, he decided to release the vessel. The Gibraltar Chronicles newspaper reported that Gibraltar’s authorities decided to release the tanker after Tehran had provided written guarantees that the vessel would not deliver its cargo to Syria.