Saturday, 24 August, 2019

Iran: Britain may soon release seized tanker

Iran Says It Expects Tanker Held by U.K. to Be Released Soon Iran says Britain might release seized Grace 1 oil tanker soon
Patty Aguilar | 16 August, 2019, 14:11

However, a senior Gibraltar official, speaking anonymously due to protocol, told the Associated Press that suggestions the tanker could depart on Tuesday night were "untrue".

The UK will facilitate the release of the Iranian oil tanker detained by Gibraltar if Iran gave guarantees that the crude loaded on that vessel wasn't bound for Syria, the UK's then foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said in the middle of July.

British Royal Marines seized the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 near Gibraltar on July 4, claiming it was transporting oil to Syria, in violation of European Union sanctions, which Iran denies.

Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization said it has made efforts to secure the release of the tanker, which is loaded with 2.1 million barrels of oil, the group's deputy head Jalil Eslami said.

Relations between Iran and the United Kingdom soured after an Iran-operated oil tanker, Grace 1, was illegally detained by British Royal Marines in Gibraltar on July 4, on accusations that the tanker was carrying oil to Syria in possible violation of the European Union's sanctions on the Arab country.

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A court in Gibraltar will decide the fate of the ship on Thursday, when an order for its detention lapses.

Tanker traffic through the Strait - where a fifth of the world's oil passes - has become the focus of a standoff between Iran and the U.S., which has beefed up its military presence in the Gulf since May.

A few days later, on July 19, Tehran impounded a British-flagged ship, Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz for failing to stop after hitting an Iranian fishing boat, a violation of global maritime rules. Tehran denied the claims and stressed that Britain has endangered maritime safety by its actions in Gibraltar.

The capture of Grace 1 was condemned by Iran as "piracy" and warned that the interception would not go unanswered.

They said the Iranian origin of the cargo was not a factor in the decision to stop the supertanker when it entered British waters off Gibraltar to collect stores on July 4.

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