The United States has threatened a visa ban on the crew of a seized Iranian supertanker after failing to block its departure from Gibraltar.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said, the Grace 1 was assisting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which the U.S. deems a terrorist organization, by transporting oil from Iran to Syria when it was detained last month. She said, Crew members of vessels assisting the Revolutionary Guard Corps by transporting oil from Iran may be ineligible for visas or entry in the United States under the terrorism related inadmissibility grounds.
The maritime community should be aware that the US government intends to revoke visas held by members of such crews. We will continue to act consistent with our existing policies concerning those who provide material support to the Revolutionary Guards, she said.
Earlier, Gibraltar’s Supreme Court ruled in favour of releasing the vessel seized on suspicion of shipping oil to war torn Syria in breach of international sanctions. Hours before the announcement, the U.S. had launched a last minute legal move demanding that the British overseas territory detain the ship.
Gibraltar police and British special forces seized the Grace 1, carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian oil, on July 4, provoking a diplomatic crisis. Tehran retaliated by seizing a British tanker, the Stena Impero, two weeks later in the strategic “Strait of Hormuz” for breaking “international maritime rules”.