Iran called on Britain on Friday to immediately release the oil tanker Grace 1 the British Royal Marines seized last week off the tiny rock of Gibraltar. The tanker oil cargo was due to unload at the Syrian Banias refinery in violation of European sanctions. With this seizure, the oil tanker war further sanctions Iran. It freezes the movement of any of the 40 oil tankers Iran possesses because they are now subject to seizure for sanction violations. It is truly a game changer.
REVENUE CHOKING MOVE
When charting Grace 1 route, the very large crude carrier (VLCC) took a circumventing route through the southern tip of Africa. It bypassed going through the Suez canal for a good reason. Its size dictated that it unloads its payload before entering the canal in a process called Lightering. Super tankers use the SUMED pipeline for offloading the oil, which they recapture after crossing the canal at Sidi Kerrir terminal on the Mediterranean.
The SUMED pipeline is a joint venture between Egypt and several Arab countries. In the past, Saudi Arabia has blocked Iranian oil tankers from its use. This leaves no choice for Iranian VLCC’s (numbering 28) but to sail the longer route through the southern tip of Africa. It is the only route to reach the western hemisphere and the Mediterranean.
The seizure of Grace 1 is deeply concerning for the Mullahs in Tehran. Any other Iranian oil tanker carrying its crude for sanction-busting deliveries is now subject to seizure. Not only foreign tankers refuse to deal with Iran, but now Iran’s own tanker fleet has literally been grounded. This is why Iran has increased its level of threats against the west. The oil tanker war further sanctions Iran to the point of paralyzes. It’s a revenue choking move Iran does not see a way out.
IRANIAN MULLAHS AND PIRATES
On Thursday, Britain said that three Iranian vessels tried to block a British-owned tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz. The Strait controls the flow of Middle East oil to the world. Only the interference of a British Royal Navy warship prevented the Iranian from capturing the oil tanker. Once again, Iran is using violence to relieve herself from choking sanctions. We should never forget that Iran occupies the capitals of four Arab countries as it spreads its wings of terror across Arab lands.
There is bound to be either a confrontational incident on the high seas or an Iranian white flag to seek serious negotiations. The world is hoping for the latter. Except Iran knows the negotiations, if they happen, will be brief. Either Iran signs a surrender document that dictates her future at the hands of the west (just as we did with Japan and Germany after WWII), or we are back to where we started.
Iran knows it. This might explain the reluctance of its violent leadership from engaging in any negotiations.
What is left then is extreme violence on the part of Iran.
Reuters contributed to this article.