Iran says UK could soon release the Grace 1

Grace 1

Iran says that the United Kingdom could free the Grace 1 tanker after both nations exchanged documents that would ensure its release. Last month, the British Royal marines seized a tanker off the shore of Gibraltar.

The measure was taken under suspicion that the ship was carrying Iranian crude to Syria, violating EU sanctions against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Iranian agencies unveiled the information

"Britain is interested in releasing Iran's oil tanker Grace 1 … following the exchange of some documents, we hope the release will take place soon," Jalal Eslami, the deputy head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization, was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency on Tuesday.

The vessel was seized based on false allegations ... it has not been freed yet," the official said.

The semi-official news agency stated Tuesday on its Twitter a picture of the Grace 1 with the caption: "According to government consultations, we expect to continue operating in the international waters with the Iranian flag in the very near future," adding that "an informal exchange to resolve the issue" was underway.

Alleviating tensions

On Tuesday, Gibraltar stated it was seeking to de-escalate issues arising with Iran since the detention of Grace 1, according to FARS.

The current detention order on the vessel expired on Saturday night, after which a court will decide on its fate.

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

Grace 1 at the core of the crisis

The Royal Marines captured the Grace 1 in the British territory of Gibraltar on July 4, after the vessel was accused of transporting oil to Syria, violating EU sanctions.

On July 19, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the Stena Impero, a tanker sailing under British flag, in the Strait of Hormuz, in an apparent response to the capture of the Grace 1.

Neither vessel has been released yet and both parties have accused each other of illegally seizing the other’s ship.

Tanker traffic through the Strait - where a fifth of the world's oil passes - has become the focus of a standoff between Iran and the US, which has beefed up its military presence in the Gulf since May.

Britain's refusal

The possibility that the UK releases the Grace 1 also suggests that Britain could reconsider the plan of exchanging the vessels.

Iran has defended this idea in the past. However, UK Foreign Secretary completely dismissed the possibility two weeks ago.

For his part, Dominic Raab said that the UK took the Iranian ship in accordance with international laws, while the Islamic Revolutionary Guard had illegally seized the British ship.

“There is no quid pro quo,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC radio, “Grace 1 was intercepted because it was in breach of sanctions and heading with oil for Syria.”

Four days before this statement, Stanley Johnson, the father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, advocated for exchanging the vessels.

The Royal Navy vessels sailing under the UK flag in the region. Additionally, on August 5 it joined a security mission led by the U.S. to ensure maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz.

For more information, check Energía16

See also: UK rejects idea of tanker exchange with Iran

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