The US has said that “any individuals” associated with the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, which was released by the authorities in Gibraltar on Thursday despite US pressure to keep it in detention, should brace themselves for “serious consequences,” such as being barred from the US.

In a statement on Thursday, the US State Department accused the vessel, seized by the UK outside of Gibraltar in early July, of “assisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) by transporting oil from Iran to Syria” – despite written assurances Tehran gave Gibraltar that the tanker’s cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil would not be unloaded in Syria.

Washington, which formally designated the elite IRGC a “terrorist organization” earlier this year, noted that crew members of ships transporting Iranian oil may be “ineligible for visas or admission to the United States” under the terrorism-related provisions. Washington has long vowed to reduce Iranian oil exports to “zero,” slapping the Islamic Republic with multiple rounds of crippling sanctions.

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