US issues warrant for Iranian tanker

U.S. authorities have issued a warrant to seize an Iranian oil tanker that lies at the center of a diplomatic stand-off between London and Washington.

The move, announced late Friday, comes a day after Gibraltar’s highest court agreed to release the tanker that was seized near the British overseas territory last month and was accused of shipping 2.1 million barrels of crude oil to Syria in breach of international sanctions.

Tehran had given assurances that the ship's cargo would no longer be sent to the embattled Middle Eastern country, though American officials said the cargo was still in violation of U.S. law.

“The documents allege a scheme to unlawfully access the U.S. financial system to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement in reference to the warrant.

It was unclear what would now happen to the tanker, which was still awaiting the arrival of a new crew before it could leave Gibraltar, according to the AFP news service.
The original seizure of the ship was based on its violation of UN sanctions against Syria.  Iran's promise not to deliver the cargo apparently led to its release, however it is still in violation of US sanctions and therefore the warrant was issued.


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