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U.S. applies to seize Iranian tanker held in Gibraltar

The U.S. government has requested to take control of an Iranian oil tanker held in Gibraltar.

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The Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 has been held in Gibraltar since it was seized by British forces in the Mediterranean last month. It was accused of heading to Syria which is in direct contravention of European Union sanctions.

The government of Gibraltar was scheduled to order the release of the tanker in a Supreme Court hearing today, according to local media. The court will now consider the US Department of Justice’s application, with a decision set to be made at 4 p.m. local time (11 a.m. EST).

This undated image made from a video provided by the IRGC/IRIB shows a ship in the Persian Gulf. Iranian forces seized the ship, which it suspected of carrying smuggled fuel, state media reported Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, marking the Revolutionary GuardThe Associated Press

This undated image made from a video provided by the IRGC/IRIB shows a ship in the Persian Gulf. Iranian forces seized the ship, which it suspected of carrying smuggled fuel, state media reported Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, marking the Revolutionary Guard’

Inside the courtroom, Chief Justice Anthony Dudley said that the “ship would have sailed” were it not for the US’s application, according to the Gibraltar Chronicle.

“The U.S. Department of Justice has applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations which are now being considered,” the Government of Gibraltar said in a statement seen by ABC News. “The matter will return to the Supreme Court of Gibraltar at 4:00 p.m. today.”

After the Iranian oil tanker was seized last month, Iran’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps responded by seizing a British-flagged and a Liberian-flagged oil tanker traveling through the Strait of Hormuz on July 18.

Iran said on Tuesday that they expected British authorities would release the tanker soon, according to Reuters. However, in response to the claim, a U.K. Foreign Office spokesperson said the fate of Grace 1 rested in the hands of the Government of Gibraltar.

“The investigations being conducted around the Grace 1 are a matter for the Government of Gibraltar,” a Foreign Office spokesperson told ABC News. “As this is an ongoing investigation we are unable to comment further.”

The U.K. Foreign Office and the U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

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