Published: Fri, August 16, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Iran claims United Kingdom ‘interested’ in releasing seized oil tanker soon

Iran claims United Kingdom ‘interested’ in releasing seized oil tanker soon

British Royal Marines seized the Grace 1 supertanker on July 4, accusing it of violating European Union sanctions on Syria, which Tehran denies.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency, quoting unidentified Gibraltar authorities, said the tanker would be freed by Tuesday evening.

"We continue to seek to de-escalate issues arising since the lawful detention of Grace 1", a spokesman for Gibraltar said.

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.

The short-term fate of Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 was thrown further into doubt on Thursday afternoon when an official from Gibraltar, which seized the vessel, denied reports it would soon be freed.

Britain could be softening their position to allow for the release of Tehran's oil tanker Grace 1 - seized by United Kingdom authorities in July - after the exchange of documents between the two countries, Iran media report.

The current detention order on the vessel expires on Saturday night, he added. Tehran denied the claims and stressed that Britain has endangered maritime safety by its actions in Gibraltar.

He said the Iranian oil tanker will soon be released and resume sailing freely with the flag of Iran. The British Foreign Office are yet to respond to Eslami's comments concerning a potential release of Iran's oil tanker.

Eslami also defended Tehran's confiscation on July 19 of the 30,000-tonne UK-flagged Stena Impero tanker, which was violating worldwide maritime rules while passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

In one of the most prominent incidents in the Gulf in the past month, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in what appeared to be a retaliatory move after Gibraltar seized the Iranian oil tanker.

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