Published: Wed, August 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Iran says Britain might release Grace 1 oil tanker soon

Iran says Britain might release Grace 1 oil tanker soon

Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization announced Tuesday that Britain is expected to release the confiscated Iranian oil tanker soon, state TV reported.

On July 4, British Royal Marines detained Iran's oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar on suspicion of breaching European Union (EU) sanctions by moving crude oil to Syria, which Tehran denies any wrongdoing.

The official said a report by Iran's semi-official Fars news agency that the Grace 1 tanker is leaving Tuesday night are "untrue".

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that report was not correct. He did not elaborate on the measures, but expressed hope that "the vessel would continue to operate under the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran".

A spokesperson for the U.K. Foreign Office said that the "ongoing investigation" into the Grace 1 was a matter for Gibraltar authorities.

Tehran rejected London's claim that the tanker was heading to Syria, slamming the seizure as "maritime piracy".

Unlike the seized Iranian tanker, which was carrying a cargo of up to 2.1 million barrels of oil, the Stena Impero was on its way to the Gulf and empty at the time it was seized by Iranian forces. Britain considers that action to have been illegal retaliation.

Britain has joined forces with US President Donald Trump to establish a maritime security mission in the Gulf to protect vessels, though Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the United Kingdom will not participate in sanctions against the Middle East nation. According to him, only Israel has joined the plan.

More than one-third of the world's oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, and the freedom of movement of oil tankers from the Strait is crucial to the world's energy security.

'Efforts from Iran and the port organisation have been made for the release of this ship, ' he was quoted as saying.

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