Gibraltar: Iran Tanker Release Report Incorrect

The current detention order on the vessel expires on Saturday night after which a court is to decide on its fate

The British overseas territory seized Iran's Grace 1 supertanker on July 4 with the help of British forces on suspicion it was shipping oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

Iranian official news agency IRNA on Tuesday August 13 expressed hope that Grace-1 would be released soon.

In an official statement last month, the foreign ministry has said the official "called for the immediate release of the oil tanker, given that it has been seized at the request of the U.S., based on the information now available".

He noted that Iranian vessels, both oil tankers and merchant ships, are commuting under normal conditions in global waters despite some difficulties.

Iranian officials denied the Gibraltar government's statements, saying the ship was not destined for Syria, though they declined to disclose its destination.

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A spokesperson said: "The investigations being conducted around the Grace 1 are a matter for the Government of Gibraltar".

Tensions in the Persian Gulf have been rising since the United States pulled out of the global 2015 nuclear treaty, under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for lifting most worldwide sanctions on Tehran. Shipping documents indicate that the tanker is not Iranian-owned and leased by Iran to carry oil. Britain considers that action to have been illegal retaliation. Esmali said Britain and the United States used that seizure as justification for forming a maritime coalition to protect Western oil interests in the Persian Gulf.

More than one-third of the world's oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, and the freedom of movement of oil tankers from the Strait is crucial to the world's energy security.

Last week, Israel's Ynet website reported that Israel is providing intelligence and other, unspecified assistance to US -led efforts to protect Persian Gulf shipping routes.

Israel has been striking Iranian targets in Syria over the past few years in an effort to limit the Islamic Republic's presence in its immediate neighborhood, and according to recent reports, has expanded those operations to hit Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.

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