Gibraltar says no immediate plan to release Iranian tanker
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Gibraltar says no immediate plan to release Iranian tanker

Ahead of Supreme Court hearing on seized ship, senior official dismisses Iranian reports that Grace 1 will be cut loose Tuesday

A picture shows supertanker Grace 1, suspected of carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, after it was detained off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4, 2019. (Jorge Guerrero/AFP)
A picture shows supertanker Grace 1, suspected of carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, after it was detained off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4, 2019. (Jorge Guerrero/AFP)

A senior official in Gibraltar denied reports Tuesday that an Iranian tanker seized near the British overseas territory is poised to be released.

The official said a report by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency that the Grace 1 tanker is leaving Tuesday night are “untrue.”

He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules.

The tanker was seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar, on the tip of southern Spain. It is suspected of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria, and its seizure deepened international tensions in the Persian Gulf.

The Gibraltar government says it is seeking to “deescalate” the situation over the Grace 1.

The Gibraltar Supreme Court is scheduled to hold a hearing on the case on Thursday.

In this photo from July 6, 2019, crew members walk down a ladder on board supertanker Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar on July 6, 2019. (Jorge Guerrero/AFP)

The deputy head of Iran’s port authority, Jalil Eslami, said in a report by state news agency IRNA on Tuesday that Britain had shown an interest in overcoming the problem and documents had been exchanged.

“Efforts from Iran and the port organization have been made for the release of this ship,” he was quoted as saying.

“I hope this problem will be resolved in the near future and that the ship can continue its movement with the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Iran called the seizure of the ship “piracy” and warned it would not let the interception go unanswered.

Iran has seized three tankers in strategic Gulf waters since last month, including a British-flagged vessel.

The United States and its Gulf allies have also accused the Islamic Republic of carrying out several mysterious attacks on ships in the region, which Tehran denies.

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