Press TV – Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization says Britain is expected to soon free an Iranian-owned oil tanker that it unlawfully seized last month off the coast of Gibraltar, after the two sides exchanged certain documents to pave the way for the supertanker’s release.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Jalil Eslami, the organization’s deputy head, said Tehran has been making efforts towards securing the release of oil tanker Grace 1, which was seized with a cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil by UK marines in the Strait of Gibraltar on July.
The official said London had shown willingness to resolve the diplomatic dispute that has broken out between the two sides over the case, adding, “Certain documents have been exchanged, which would help settle the issue.”
“We hope that the problem will be resolved in the near future and that the ship can continue sailing with the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said
Britain has claimed the Iranian-owned oil tanker was seized on suspicion of violating the European Union’s unilateral bans against Syria, but reports show the confiscation took place upon a call by the US.
Tehran rejected London’s claim that the tanker was heading to Syria, slamming the seizure as “maritime piracy.”
The Iranian port official went on to say that the UK’s seizure of Grace 1 emanates from its “bias” and lacks true reasons.
Additionally on Tuesday, a spokesman for Gibraltar said the British overseas territory was seeking “to de-escalate issues arising since” the detention of Grace 1, Reuters reported.
Earlier, maritime security company Dryad Global had reported that Grace 1 had signaled a new destination of Morocco, but later removed the update.
TankerTrackers.com also tweeted that the tanker had been signaling Morocco as its next destination after having spent 5 weeks in Gibraltar.
The Iranian official further defended Tehran’s confiscation on July 19 of the 30,000-tonne UK-flagged Stena Impero tanker, which was violating international maritime rules while passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
Esmaili said the UK and the US created hype around the confiscation, with Washington using it as a pretext to propose the formation a maritime coalition aimed at Iran, which the official said is doomed to failure.
The vessel had been involved in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat and had ignored its distress call, changing its route. It also switched off its tracking system and used the exit lane to enter the strategic strait.