Sources have confirmed reports that the Iranian supertanker Grace-1 seized in Gibraltar will soon be released, apparently as a goodwill gesture by the UK to secure the release of the British oil tanker Stena Impero impounded in Iran.
A senior Iranian official said on Tuesday that Britain might free its oil tanker Grace-1 soon, after some documents were exchanged that would help the seized ship’s release.
“Britain is interested in releasing Iran’s oil tanker Grace-1,” the deputy head of Iran’s ports and Maritime Organisation, Jalil Eslami, said.
“Following the exchange of some documents, we hope the release will take place soon,” he said.
In another sign of de-escalation, Gibraltar also said it was seeking to de-escalate issues arising with Iran since the detention of the Grace-1 tanker.
“We continue to seek to de-escalate issues arising since the lawful detention of Grace 1,” a spokesman for Gibraltar said.
The current detention order on the vessel expires on Saturday night, the spokesman said.
British Royal Marines seized the Iranian oil tanker on July 4 off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory of Gibraltar on suspicion of violating EU sanctions by taking oil to Syria, which Tehran denies.
Meanwhile, the Turkish news agency EHA announced on Tuesday that Gibraltar will release the Iranian tanker later in the day.
However, sources have told the Iran Front Page that Iran has no information about the release of the tanker on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Persian service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) says sources have confirmed that the tanker will be released soon.
The UK Foreign Office, however, says “the investigations being conducted around the Grace 1 are a matter for the Government of Gibraltar.”
“As this is an ongoing investigation we are unable to comment further.”
The tanker’s release is expected to facilitate Tehran’s reciprocal release of the UK tanker it seized last month on charge of violating international maritime rules.