Iran says the UK might let the captured oil tanker go soon

Erika Holt
August 14, 2019

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.

"We believe that (the) Grace 1 oil tanker will resume operation under (the) Iranian flag in global waters in the very near future", Eslami said, according to Iran's Fars news agency.

Jalil Eslami, deputy head of Iran's maritime agency, said Tuesday that the tanker, Grace 1, would soon be released by Gibraltar authorities.

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.

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

The Iranian oil tanker seized by British Royal Marines last month could be released soon, officials in Tehran said.

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Last month, calling for the immediate release of Grace 1, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson told the state-run IRNA news agency: "This is a risky game and has consequences".

The tankers' affair has added to worsening hostilities since Washington pulled out of an global agreement curbing Iran's nuclear program and reimposed economic sanctions.

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.

The official is also quoted as saying Iran hopes the issue will be resolved in the near future and the tanker can continue sailing with the country's national flag. Britain considers that action to have been retaliation.

Israel has been striking Iranian targets in Syria over the past few years in an effort to limit the Islamic Republic's presence in its immediate neighborhood, and according to recent reports, has expanded those operations to hit Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.

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