Via Economic Policy Journal

Royal Marines board the Grace 1

It really appears as though the US and its lapdog allies are determined to provoke Iran into a serious hostile act.

British Royal Marines and Gibraltar police have seized a supertanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, reports the Financial Times.

Shipbrokers and tanker tracking data indicate that the oil on board Grace 1, a Panamanian-flagged vessel with a capacity of 2m barrels, is from Iran.

“We have detained the vessel and its cargo,” Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo said in a statement. “That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria.”

FT adds:

According to a person familiar with the operation, the chief marshal of Gibraltar requested assistance from the UK’s ministry of defence on Tuesday. Thirty Royal Marines were dispatched from Devon to help with the operation…

Shipbrokers said Grace 1 loaded Iranian light-grade crude off Kharg Island in the Persian Gulf on April 7. It then remained in place off Fujairah, on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates. Data showed the cargo on board had changed to fuel oil. It departed the region in mid-May, sailing round the Cape of Good Hope towards Gibraltar. “She’s been sailing very slowly for the last six weeks,” said one shipbroker.

Supertankers are too large to transit the narrow Suez Canal, leading Grace 1 to make the long journey via South Africa and Gibraltar through the Mediterranean Sea.

More analysis at the EPJ Daily Alert.

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RW