Iran, on Monday, has said that the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero was free to leave. The decision came just when Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is on a visit to New York for the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The tanker had been captured in July by Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Strait of Hormuz on the allegations of the international maritime rules violation. The vessel was seized two weeks after an Iranian tanker was captured by the United Kingdom just off the coast of Gibraltar.
According to Iran’s official news agency, Iran's government spokesperson has said that the legal process was over and the conditions to let the tanker go free were fulfilled. Rabiei has not confirmed about the date on which the tanker would start its journey and re-enter international waters. Iran has already released the 23-member crew on September 4. Iranian Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Abbas Mousavi had said that the decision to release the crew members was made in line with Iran's ‘humanitarian policies’.
On September 22, the chief executive of the firm that owns the vessel confirmed that the vessel will be released soon. “We have received information now this morning that it seems like they will release the ship Stena Impero within a few hours. So we understand that the political decision to release the ship has been taken,” a Swedish Broadcaster quoted Stena Bulk Chief Executive Erik Hanell. “We hope to be able to head out within a few hours, but we don’t want to anticipate events. We want to see that the ship sails out of Iranian territorial waters,” he added.
The confirmation of the release is an important step at the time when the United States is putting pressure on its European allies to isolate Iran and impose more sanctions on it. After the drone attack on the oil facilities of Saudi Arabia, Trump administration had blamed Iran for its involvement. “Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had tweeted after the attack.
(With inputs from Agencies)