Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar notes reports suggesting that the Grace 1 has discharged its cargo of oil in Syria.
We will await the outcome of the meeting between the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab and the Iranian Ambassador to London before jumping to judgment.
When the Grace 1 was detained by the Gibraltar authorities in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, the Iranian Government asserted ownership of the cargo via the National Iranian Oil Company. Additionally, they said repeatedly that the oil aboard the vessel was not bound for Syria. The Gibraltar authorities, nonetheless, identified clear evidence aboard the Grace 1 which showed it had been bound to the sanctioned Baniyas Refinery in Syria. The Iranian Government in Tehran subsequently committed in a meeting in London with the Chief Minister (on 17th July) and in writing that the vessel and its cargo, if released by Gibraltar from its detention in BGTW, would not be provided to any EU sanctioned entity.
We now await details of whom the National Iranian Oil Company sold the oil aboard the Grace 1 to before reacting to what would be an egregious and contumelous breach of the undertakings given by Iran to Gibraltar in a formal, diplomatic Note Verbale.
If the reports that the oil has been sold to Syria are true, it will render worthless the written word of the Government of Iran on all matters. The world will be better placed to judge Iran’s position on other, more transcendental matters based on actions on this issue on which they have been under the microscope of international scrutiny. Before that, however, we should await a formal statement from the Government of Iran or the National Iranian Oil Company.
The Chief Minister of Gibraltar, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: “Gibraltar did its bit in relation to the Grace 1 to stop the vessel when we did. We held her here, in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters for 45 days. Now we await details of the final destination of the oil before making any further comment. It will be a massive volte face for Iran to have failed to live up to its written undertaking in the full glare of international public opinion. They will really make themselves look shifty and unreliable if they have acted contrary to their repeated assertions and undertakings.”