Hours after the Gibraltar Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s effort to stop the release of an Iranian oil tanker seized by the U.K. last month, the Justice Department further escalated tensions with Tehran by issuing a warrant on Friday in a last-ditch bid to seize the tanker before it sets sail.
“Bolton is desperate to start a war,” tweeted Quincy Institute executive vice president Trita Parsi, referring to President Donald Trump’s national security adviser.
The warrant, unveiled by the Justice Department Friday night, states that “all petroleum aboard [the Grace 1 tanker] and $995,000.00 are subject to forfeiture based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), bank fraud statute, and money laundering statute, as well as separately the terrorism forfeiture statute.”
According to Al Jazeera, “There was no immediate word from Britain or Gibraltar over whether they would act on the warrant, as Iran said it was sending a new crew to pilot the tanker.”
As Common Dreams reported after British forces seized Grace 1 in waters east of Gibraltar last month, the U.K. alleged the tanker was carrying oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.
Iran denied the accusations and said the U.K. captured Grace 1 under orders from the Trump administration.
On Thursday, the Trump Justice Department filed an appeal to seize the tanker, but the Gibraltar Supreme Court rejected the U.S. effort and ordered the release of Grace 1.
Following the court’s decision, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Trump administration of a “piracy attempt.”
“Having failed to accomplish its objectives through its economic terrorism—including depriving cancer patients of medicine—the U.S. attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas,” said Zarif.
On Twitter, journalist Gareth Porter said the Trump administration’s warrant issued Friday “perfectly illustrates the U.S. trying to impose its domestic laws on the rest of the world.”
“It should provoke worldwide outrage,” Porter added.