On Monday, Iran said the British oil tanker Stena Impero was free to leave after two months of detention. Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee was quoted in FARS, Iran’s semi-official news agency, as saying the Iranian government had decided to condone the vessel’s previous violation of maritime regulations.
According to Rabiyee, the ship would be allowed to leave the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, in southern Iran, with the completion of legal proceedings. The IRGC had seized the ship on July 19 and accused it of violating maritime rules and regulations in the Strait of Hormuz, FARS reported at the time.
The ship’s seizure had been seen as a sign of retaliation against the previous British detention of an Iranian tanker at Gibraltar. The British released the tanker in mid-August. The Stena Impero is British-flagged, but the majority of its 23-member crew are Indian nationals, according to FARS. The rest of the crew are from Russia, Latvia, and the Philippines.
The tanker’s capture came two weeks after British forces seized Iranian tanker Grace 1, now known as Adrian Darya 1, during an operation off Gibraltar over suspicions it was breaching European Union sanctions by transporting oil to Syria. Iran denied the allegations.
Despite an attempt by the United States to extend the detention of the Grace 1, the tanker was released in mid-August after Tehran formally assured that the vessel would not discharge its 2.1 million barrels of oil in Syria.
The seizure of both vessels came amid rising tensions in the Gulf between Iran and the United States.
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