US warns of serious consequences to crew of Iranian oil tanker for assisting terrorist organisation

The US has warned of serious consequences to crew members associated with the Iranian oil tanker, Grace 1, accusing it of assisting a terrorist organization by transporting oil from Iran to Syria. It further cautioned that the crewmembers of vessels assisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) may be ineligible for visas or admission to the US under the terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds.

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The US issued the statement on Thursday when Gibraltar authorities released all 24 Indian sailors onboard the ship that was taken into custody on July 4. The ship was detained off the coast of British Territory Gibraltar for allegedly carrying oil to Syria that would have violated sanctions on the country. 

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the US. 

“Crewmembers of vessels assisting the IRGC by transporting oil from Iran may be ineligible for visas or admission to the United States under the terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds in Section 212(a)(3)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The maritime community should be aware that the US government intends to revoke visas held by members of such crews. In the case of the M/T Grace I, we will continue to act consistent with our existing policies concerning those who provide material support to the IRGC,” the US said in a statement.

The US further added that it will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to deny Iran and its “proxies” the resources they need to engage in malign and destabilising activities in Syria and elsewhere. “This includes the full enforcement of U.S. sanctions with respect to Iran and the IRGC,” it added.

In July, the Indian officials from Indian Mission in London got consular access to crew members and a 3-member team went to meet them. The Indian crew spent 43 days in detention on board the ship. Citizens from Russia, the Philippines were also onboard the seized Iranian tanker.

Gibraltar authorities have released all 24 Indian sailors onboard Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 that was taken into custody on July 4. The Iranian tanker Grace 1 was detained off the coast of British Territory Gibraltar for allegedly carrying oil to Syria that would have violated sanctions on the country. 

Confirming the development of the release all 24 Indian sailors, V Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs, had said, “Spoke to our High Commission @HCI_London, on VLCC Grace 1. They confirmed all 24 Indian crew aboard VLCC Grace 1 have been released by Gibraltar authorities and are free to return to India.” The Indian Captain of Grace 1 supertanker also said that he is ”grateful to all who have facilitated my release in my legal team.”