Tehran, Aug 19, IRNA – The case of Adrian Darya tanker (Grace 1) ended Sunday night in Gibraltar, where many experts consider the ship's release a legal and diplomatic victory for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
They believe that Tehran has shown once again that in dealing with these issues by using defense-political authority can defend its own interests and at the same time apply the policy of resolving bilateral and multilateral disputes.
The case of "Grace 1 or Adrian Darya" oil tanker incident began just 45 days ago, when news of the launch of a special financial mechanism called INSTEX came to light, and news of the seizure of the ship carrying Iranian oil by British Navy got media attention.
What was the matter?
The Gibraltar government announced on July 4 that authorities in the area and the British Navy had seized a 300,000-ton supertanker called Grace I. Subsequently, the UK claimed that the tanker was headed for the Baniyas Refinery in northwestern Syria.
Fabian Picardo, the Chief Minister of autonomous region of Gibraltar, claimed at that time that the refinery was owned by a company subject to EU sanctions against Syria.
Gibraltar is a strategic region in the Iberian Peninsula in southern Spain, with Madrid and London claiming sovereignty. Gibraltar is in fact a peninsula that is connected by land to Spain, but is a British overseas territory.
Reactions to Grace's seizure
This was not the end of the story, and after the tanker carrying Iranian oil was seized, Foreign Ministry officials, and in particular Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, announced that some sort of "piracy" had taken place and had begun their political and legal action.
Iran's first reaction to this was to summon the British ambassador. Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi wrote on Twitter that the British ambassador to Tehran was summoned to the Foreign Office following the illegal seizure of a tanker carrying Iranian oil in the Gibraltar Strait.
The then British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had a phone conversation with the Iranian Foreign Minister. The British Foreign Office had said the condition for Grace 1 release would be a guarantee by Iran that the next destination of the tanker was not to be Syria, but Iranian Foreign Ministry officials responded that the request had no legal basis.
Hours after the announcement by the Gibraltar government, US National Security Adviser John Bolton while welcoming the development tweeted that the United States and its allies would continue to prevent Tehran and Damascus to make benefits from this illegal trade.
Russia's diplomatic apparatus, however, condemned the British seizure of the tanker, announcing the evident was suggesting that the move was a pre-designed plan by the US and Britain.
The statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry emphasized that remarks by US and British officials after the incident indicated that the measure had been planned in advance and that several intelligence agencies had contributed.
Legal Battle in Gibraltar
The past developments in the case of the oil tanker were as complex as the seizure of the ship. The seizure of the British oil tanker Stena Impero and the British attempt to build a maritime alliance in the Persian Gulf, has signs of a complicated political-security and legal process.
But to what extent the Gibraltar government's legal perceptions for the seizure of the ship were correct, the British Navy's action is not considered to be right in the light of the principles governing international relations (seizure in international waters).
The interpretation that the British had of the status of the ship and acted within it was a unilateral perception of the Syrian sanction.
Examination of the EU sanctions document against Syria shows that the British government's claim to seize the oil tanker "Grace 1" carrying Iranian crude oil has no legal basis for even moving to Syria.
According to the annexed document to the European Union's restrictive measures against Syria, European countries are only required to inspect cargoes destined for Syria on suspicion of carrying military weapons to Syria.
In fact, 28 EU member states can only seize ships and aircraft passing through EU territory carrying weapons and "equipment related to domestic crack down" only for compelling reasons.
According to the EU sanctions document, the import of crude oil and petrochemical products from Syria to EU member states is banned and there is no mention of restrictions on crude exports to the country. So British action is, in every way, contrary to the principles of international law.
The Times of London, on the other hand, wrote that the local government of Gibraltar 36 hours before the oil tanker (Grace 1) passed through the area, amended the rules and regulations on sanctions under British pressure so that the British Marines to be able to occupy and seize it.
According to jurists, the changes in the laws of the local government of Gibraltar pretended in a way that the seizure of the Grease was legal.
The Gibraltar Local Government Sanctions Regulations 2019, which became the law of the territory on July 3, gives the officials the authority to identify and seize ships if the local government chief minister is suspected of the ships are used to violate EU sanctions.
Happy ending to Adrian Sea case
But after 45 days of political and legal battle last Thursday evening, August 15, local newspapers in Gibraltar reported that a British-ruled district court had granted the release of Iranian supertanker "Grace 1" and the British government finally after five weeks released the tanker.
Adrian Darya’s seizure was lifted as the Trump administration attempted twice to seize the ship and its cargo by pressuring the supreme court of the Gibraltar region and imposing unilateral sanctions on the ship and its crew.
The Gibraltar government issued a statement on Sunday saying the United States is seeking to seize the tanker for reasons that are in essence related to US sanctions on Iran. The Gibraltar government issued a statement rejecting the US request, stressing that the EU sanctions regime against Iran is fundamentally different from the US sanctions regime against Iran.
But a strategic understanding and experience can be apprehended from the case of the oil carrier; although there appears to be signs of British involvement in American political, legal, and economic processes towards the Islamic Republic of Iran, but basically such a situation indicates that American strategy, policy and action is vincible, and Iran's political and legal diplomacy, in the light of the JCPOA political-legal basis, can help pursue national interests and achieve national goals.