A supertanker was detained by British Royal Marines in fast boats and helicopters on Thursday. It suspected the tanker of carrying Iranian oil to Syria near the Mediterranean peninsula of Gibraltar. The delivery appeared to violate both the European Union and U.S. sanctions on oil deliveries to the Iran-allied Syrian government.
After the recent attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf, tensions erupted between Western countries and Tehran. The suspicion that the oil originated in Iran could provoke the tension.
According to a statement from the government in Gibraltar, after it received the information that the vessel was likely to be delivering oil to Syria in breach of E.U sanctions on that country, the Grace 1 tanker was seized. The vessel is registered in Panama and the owner is a Singapore-based company. However, Gibraltar did not disclose the provenance of the oil.
The only nation known for supplying oil to Syria is Iran. E.U. embargo, as well as strict new U.S. sanctions, have opposed delivering oil to Syria that has contributed to severe fuel shortages in government-held areas of the country. The sources revealed that the tanker had been loaded with Iranian oil off the coast of Iran.
According to Gibraltar, the oil was scheduled to deliver for Syria’s Baniyas refinery on the Mediterranean coast. As a government-owned entity, it was added to the E.U. sanctions list in 2014. The Gibraltar incident is likely to trigger tensions between Britain and Spain over the peninsula’s status.