TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Deputy Minister of Road and Urbanization Seyed Ataollah Sadr announced on Saturday that Tehran and New Delhi are close to an agreement on the fate of an Indian oil tanker which was intercepted by Iran in the Persian Gulf earlier this month.
“The negotiations in this regard are yielding results” and if India’s shipping line and the relevant insurance company give a written guarantee, “the vessel can continue its route”, Sadr told FNA today.
He criticized the Indian shipping line and the insurance company in charge for their delay in providing the necessary assurances to Iran, and said if they had cooperated in this regard, the oil tanker would have been allowed to continue its path the same day it was intercepted.
Sadr said that the costs of obviating the pollution caused by the oil tanker in the Persian Gulf should be paid by the Indian insurance company, adding that it is one of the rules underlined in the international shipping conventions.
In relevant remarks last week, another Iranian official said that the Indian oil tanker, MT Desh Shanti, which was intercepted by the Iranian Navy as it was carrying Iraqi oil through the Persian Gulf is in the custody of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Office, reiterating that the vessel should compensate through its protection and indemnity (P&I) insurance coverage for the pollution it has caused.
“According to the international maritime law, the oil tanker should pay through its P&I insurance for the damage it has caused by polluting the Persian Gulf waters and also provide the necessary guarantees in this regard to the Iranian Ports and Maritime Organization,” Deputy Managing-Director of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization Seyed Ali Stiri told FNA last Saturday.
Stiri underlined that his organization has gathered the necessary information and documents showing the Indian oil tanker has violated the international maritime law.
The Iranian Navy intercepted the Indian oil tanker on its way to India on Tuesday.
The vessel was carrying 140,000 tons of Basrah crude from Iraq to India.
“It was a Shipping Corp of India (SCI) vessel carrying Iraqi crude for us … it was detained by Iran authorities to check pollution,” Chairman of Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) S Roy Chaudhury said.
The Director General for maritime pollution affairs at the Iranian Department of the Environment, Nima Pourang, told FNA last Saturday that the tanker had been detained because it discharged its oily ballast water 30 miles away from Iran’s Lavan Island in the Persian Gulf which caused a 10-mile-long oil slick on the sea.
Yet, some western media alleged that Iran had seized the ship due to political motives.
In response, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Araqchi rejected the western media reports, stressing that the move was a routine practice and done in accordance with international regulations.
“The ship has been detained by Iranian naval forces for causing widespread pollution in the Persian Gulf,” Araqchi said earlier this month.
The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman stressed that the inspection of the Indian oil tanker was not at all due to political reasons.
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