Iran says Britain might release Grace 1 oil tanker soon

Elias Hubbard
August 13, 2019

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.

Gibraltar said on Tuesday it was seeking to de-escalate issues arising with Iran since the detention.

He said the Iranian oil tanker will soon be released and resume sailing freely with the flag of Iran.

"The vessel was seized based on false allegations", Eslami said in comments reported by state news agency IRNA.

Tehran maintains that the supertanker was not bound for Syria and its seizure has taken place at the behest of the US.

Quoting Gibraltar authorities, the semi-official FARS news agency said the ship will be released by Tuesday evening.

A source for the government of Gibraltar denied those reports while Britain said investigations into the tanker were a matter for its Mediterranean territory.

Two weeks after the capture of the Iranian tanker, Iran's Revolutionary Guards seized a British tanker, Stena Impero, near the Strait of Hormuz, accusing it of marine violations.

Tanker Trackers, a company that monitors ship movements, said Grace-1 was sending signals on Monday that indicate it will leave Gibraltar toward a destination in Morocco, although the vessel is still in Gibraltar.

The Gulf tanker crisis has added to worsening hostilities since Washington pulled out of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with six powers, under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for lifting most global sanctions on Tehran.

Britain, which repeatedly ruled out any exchange and has since been giving UK-flagged vessels in the region a naval escort, joined a US-led security mission in the narrow passageway on August 5 in order to secure maritime traffic.

Iran's Foreign Ministry has summoned the British envoy to Tehran several times in protest at the United Kingdom navy's move.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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