The Latest: US to revoke visas held by crew of Iranian ship

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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’s third seizure of a vessel in recent weeks and the latest show of strength by the paramilitary force amid a spike in regional tensions. (IRGC/IRIB via AP)

MADRID (AP) — The latest on Iranian supertanker at center of Persian Gulf tensions (all times local):

4:05 a.m.

The State Department says it will revoke U.S. visas for crew members on an Iranian oil tanker that was seized by authorities in Gibraltar for sanctions violations but released Thursday.

The department says in a statement it intends to fully enforce all U.S. sanctions related to Iranian oil exports despite the decision by Gibraltar to allow the ship to leave. The Grace I was seized last month on suspicion of transporting Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European sanctions. Such deliveries are also barred by U.S. sanctions.

Gibraltar freed the ship after Iran promised the oil won’t be sent to Syria.

The State Department also says the ship was assisting Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps in evading sanctions. The Corps is designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S.

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6:30 p.m.

Britain’s Foreign Office has warned Iran to abide by the assurances it provided to the government of Gibraltar that led to the release of a detained Iranian supertanker.

In a statement hours after a Gibraltar court released the Grace I, U.K. authorities insisted they would not allow Iran or anyone else to bypass European Union sanctions meant to punish Syria for using chemical weapons against its own people.

But the U.K. also insisted that there should be “no comparison or linkage” between the enforcement of sanctions and “Iran’s unacceptable and illegal seizure of, and attacks on, commercial shipping vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.”

Britain wants Iran to release the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which was seized by the Islamic Republic after British Marines took over the Grace I.

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5:25 p.m.

Iran’s foreign minister is accusing the U.S. of trying to “steal our property on the high seas” after an American request to seize an Iranian oil tanker.

Mohammad Javad Zarif made the comment in a tweet Thursday night, immediately after a Gibraltar court said it would allow the Grace 1 to leave the British territory.

Zarif wrote: “Having failed to accomplish its objectives through its #EconomicTerrorism —including depriving cancer patients of medicine — the US attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas.”

Zarif added: “This piracy attempt is indicative of Trump (administration’s) contempt for the law.”

The Grace 1, carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude, was seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar. The vessel was suspected of violating European Union sanctions on Syria.

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4.30 p.m.

A newspaper in Gibraltar says authorities have released an Iranian supertanker at the center of a standoff with Tehran that the U.S. had sought to seize through legal action.

The Supreme Court in Gibraltar had delayed a decision to release the ship after the U.S. Department of Justice made a last-minute application to extend the vessel’s detention, the Gibraltar government said earlier on Thursday. Gibraltar is a British overseas territory linked by a narrow stretch of land to southern Spain.

But the Gibraltar Chronicle reports there was no U.S. application before the court when the hearing resumed on Thursday afternoon. The newspaper quoted the court’s chief justice, Anthony Dudley.

The Grace 1, carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude, was seized on July 4 in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar. The vessel was suspected of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.

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11:25 a.m.

A newspaper in Gibraltar says the United States has applied to seize an Iranian supertanker that authorities in the British overseas territory were seeking to release from detention.

The Gibraltar Chronicle says the development means a last minute application by the U.S. Department of Justice to extend the ship’s detention prompted the Supreme Court to adjourn its decision until later Thursday.

The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The tanker was seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar. It’s suspected of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria, and its seizure deepened international tensions in the Persian Gulf.

The Gibraltar government says it is seeking to “de-escalate” the situation over the Grace 1.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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