A British oil tanker detained by Iran will quickly be released, according to an Iranian maritime official.
The tanker, the Stena Impero, was seized along with its crew by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19 for alleged marine violations.
“Just after the issuing of the ruling for the finish of detention of the English tanker Stena Impero this vessel will quickly, and right after the passing of 65 days, commence its movement from the port of Bandar Abbas toward international waters,” Allahmorad Afifipour, the head of the Ports and Maritime Organisation of Iran in Hormozgan Province, told Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday, according to Reuters.
The approach for the tanker to exit Iranian waters has been began, but the legal case against the ship is nevertheless open, Afifipour reportedly told Fars. The ship is at the moment becoming held off the port city of Bandar Abbas on the southern coast of Iran.
An precise release date has not however been provided by Iran, but according to a statement produced to Sweden’s public broadcaster and quoted by Reuters, the head of the Swedish firm that owns the vessel, Stena Bulk, mentioned following Sunday’s announcement, that the tanker could be released inside hours.
“We have received data now this morning that it appears like they will release the ship Stena Impero inside a couple of hours,” Stena Bulk Chief Executive Erik Hanell reportedly told SVT. “We hope to be capable to head out inside a couple of hours, but we never want to anticipate events. We want to see that the ship sails out of Iranian territorial waters.”
But, by Sunday evening, the ship had nevertheless not been released.
A spokesperson for Stena Bulk, Will Marks, told Reuters, “The vessel is nevertheless becoming held and the negotiations are ongoing, and till we have official confirmation and the vessel is lifting up its anchor and sailing out of Iranian waters we can not confirm something else.”
There had been 23 crew members of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationalities aboard the Stena Impero when it was seized. On Sept. four, seven of them had been released, even though the remaining crew members have reportedly remained aboard the ship.
The seizure was noticed as an act of retaliation, considering the fact that the British detained an Iranian oil tanker, the Grace 1, earlier that similar month.
The Grace 1 was halted in the semiautonomous British territory of Gibraltar and was released in August right after nearby authorities rejected U.S. requests to maintain the tanker impounded.
When the British very first seized the Iranian tanker, they had been acting at the request of the U.S., who suspected that the Iranian tanker was bringing oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. Iran denied the claims and assured a court in Gibraltar that the tanker would not proceed to Syria, according to Bloomberg.
News of the Sterno Impera’s impending release comes at a time of heightened tensions in the Middle East.
Hours ahead of Iran announced plans to release the British tanker, Iranian President Hassan Rohani named on Western powers to leave the safety of the Persian Gulf to regional nations beneath Tehran’s leadership, according to The Connected Press.
Separately, Rohani also promised to unveil a regional peace strategy at this week’s upcoming United Nations’ meetings.