Thursday, August 22, 2019
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Gibraltar to Release Iranian Oil Tanker within Hours

TEHRAN An Iranian oil tanker seized by British Royal Marines in early July will be released on Thursday, according to a report.

Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said that the Grace 1 would be released on Thursday, adding that Gibraltar authorities would not renew the order to detain the oil tanker, The Sun newspaper reported.

According to the daily, the captain of the Grace 1 reportedly gave the Gibraltar Chief Minister a written undertaking, and Picardo would not ask a judge to extend the detention during a court hearing on Thursday.

There is no reason to keep the Grace 1 in Gibraltar a moment longer if we no longer believe it is in breach of sanctions against Syria, the British daily quoted a source close to the Chief Minister as saying.

That is now the case, so you can expect to see her on her way tomorrow, the source noted.

Later, a source told Reuters the Iranian tanker will likely be allowed to leave Gibraltar following a court decision which is due on Thursday.

Just hours before the Gibraltar Government was poised to release the Iranian vessel, the US Department of Justice applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations which is now being considered by the Gibraltar Government.

Gibraltarian lawyer Joseph Triay pointed out that this application was to have taken a very different turn. It was to have been an application for no further order of detention".

Commenting on the issue, a source in the Gibraltar government told The Gibraltar Chronicle newspaper that a captain and three crew members of the Iranian tanker have already been released.

Days ago, TankerTrackers.com reported that the tanker had been signaling Morocco as its next destination after having spent five weeks in Gibraltar.

On Tuesday, Gibraltar announced it plans to de-escalate tensions with Iran over the seizure of Grace 1 supertanker, reinvigorating hopeful speculations that it might release the large vessel soon.

Gibraltar stated it was seeking to de-escalate issues arising with Iran since the detention of the Grace 1 tanker 40 days ago.

READ MORE: Official: British-Seized Iranian Oil Tanker to Return to Int'l Waters Soon

In early July, British marines and Gibraltar police seized the Iranian tanker off the Southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Picardo had claimed that the ship was transporting crude oil to Syria in violation of the EU sanctions placed on Damascus. Washington has applauded the move, hailing it as a sign that Europe is on board with the US' unilateral sanctions against Iran.

Iran condemned the illegal move of London and described it as tantamount to piracy. Tehran accused the UK of doing Washington's bidding and helping the US attempt to stifle the Islamic Republic's oil exports, rejecting London's claim that the supertanker was carrying crude for Syria.

The recent moves by foreign powers in the Middle East such as US sanctions on Tehran's oil, UK seizure of Iranian supertanker, as well as, "sabotage operations" on oil ships have intensified the turmoil in the region and the turmoil in the international energy market, affecting global crude prices in recent months.

Source: Fars News Agency