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  • Grace 1, Iran's oil tanker, being guarded by UK authorities in Gibraltar.

    Grace 1, Iran's oil tanker, being guarded by UK authorities in Gibraltar. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 August 2019

“We hope that the problem will be resolved in the near future and that the ship can continue sailing with the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Iran is celebrating a diplomatic victory, as they claim the U.K. is expected to release the seized Iranian tanker, following negotiations. Iranian maritime authorities said Tuesday that they had been in talks with the U.K. government, and showed documents that prove that Iran did not violate sanctions against Syria, the reason given by the U.K. for the seizure.

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Jalil Eslami, deputy head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, spoke Tuesday, saying that “Certain documents have been exchanged, which would help settle the issue”. The documents pertaining to the fact that the vessel’s destination was Morocco, not Syria, which is sanctioned by the EU and is what led to the seizure in the first place. 

Eslami said the U.K. had "shown willingness" during diplomatic talks, and that “We hope that the problem will be resolved in the near future and that the ship can continue sailing with the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The tanker was carrying  2.1 million barrels of oil when it was seized by U.K. authorities in July, as it passed through the Strait of Gibraltar, which is controlled by Britain. Iran says the seizure took place on orders from the U.S. and labeled it "maritime piracy."

The future of the U.K.’s oil tanker, seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz, is, however, less certain. Iran defended their position, stating that the vessel had collided with an Iranian fishing boat and had ignored distress calls. The British ship also switched off its tracking system and entered the Strait of Hormuz through an unauthorized point. 

The conflict has led to calls by European powers to build a naval force to police in the Persian Gulf, despite the fact that the waters do not belong to any European country. 

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