CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close U.S. moves to seize Iranian oil supertanker

President Trump called Iran “nothing but trouble” after saying he heard from the U.K. that tankers were seized in the Strait of Hormuz. USA TODAY

The United States has applied to seize an Iranian oil supertanker, according to the government in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory where the ship was due to be released Thursday from detention after being impounded by authorities last month. 

The U.S. action is the latest move in a standoff between Iran and Washington after President Donald Trump withdrew from an international nuclear accord with Tehran and reimposed sanctions. Tensions in the Persian Gulf have been on the rise ever since.  

“The U.S. Department of Justice has applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations which are now being considered,” Gibraltar’s government said in a statement. It said the matter would be reviewed by a court at 4 p.m. (10 a.m. ET).

The Gibraltar Chronicle reported the U.S. Department of Justice filed a last minute application to extend the tanker’s detention during a hearing in Gibraltar’s Supreme Court. The Justice Dept. didn’t immediately respond to a comment request.

The tanker “Grace 1” was seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off the coast of Gibraltar. Authorities suspected it of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. Its seizure has deepened tensions in the Persian Gulf, where Iran claims control of the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for oil shipments. 

While there was no immediate reaction from Iran, the development is likely to further aggravate tensions in the Persian Gulf. Following Gibraltar’s detention of “Grace 1,” Iran seized the British-flagged oil tanker “Stena Impero” as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz. The Islamic Republic is still holding the “Stena Impero,” claiming that it failed to stop after colliding with an Iranian fishing boat. Iran has also seized other foreign oil tankers and the U.S. blames Tehran for the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone. 

Iran tensions:: Tehran seizes another foreign oil tanker, state media says

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