Iran tanker departs after Gibraltar detention

The Iranian oil tanker at the centre of a diplomatic dispute has departed from Gibraltar, AFP reported Monday (August 19th).

According to the monitoring website Marine Traffic, the supertanker -- which had been detained since July 4th off the coast of Gibraltar -- lifted anchor Sunday evening and started sailing south.

Authorities in Gibraltar have not confirmed its departure.

Gibraltar seized the Grace 1 on July 4th on suspicion it was transporting oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, triggering a sharp deterioration in relations between Tehran and London. Iran has repeatedly denied any violations.

Its Supreme Court ordered the tanker released last Thursday, with Iranian officials saying a new crew had arrived to pilot the vessel -- now renamed the Adrian Darya -- and its 2.1 million barrels of oil.

As of early Monday, the vessel had turned east, with Marine Traffic reporting its destination as Kalamata in Greece.

In its decision ordering the release of the tanker, Gibraltar's government said it had received written assurances from Iran that the ship would not be headed for countries "subject to European Union sanctions".

Iran denied it had made any promises about the ship's destination to secure the release.

The US State Department has threatened to issue a visa ban on anyone working on the ship.

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