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Iran says British tanker free to pass after 2 months of detention



A British-flagged tanker that Iran seized in July is now free to leave, Tehran said on Monday, more than a month after British authorities released an Iranian tanker detained near Gibraltar.

News offers a rare hint of easing tensions in Iran at a time when the country is in an escalating cycle of confrontation with its Gulf neighbors and the United States, including drone dropping, seizure of tankers and the recent assault on major oil installations in Saudi Arabia.

Officials of the United States and Saudi Arabia, Iran's main competitor in the region, have accused Tehran of the September 1

4 attack on oil rigs in the kingdom, raising the prospect of retaliation. and even war. But so far, the only obvious action they are taking against Tehran is tightening economic sanctions.

Iran has accused British tanker Stena Impero of violating maritime regulations in the Hormuz Strait, but the seizure of the

trial of Stena Impero has ended and Iran has decided to abandon the alleged violations, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiy said a press conference according to Iranian and Western news agencies that attended.

The ship had not left Bandar Abbas, a port in southern Iran, by noon, and it was not clear how fast it would sail. Eric Hanel, CEO of the tanker owner, shipping company Stena Bulk, told SVT, a Swedish television station, that he hoped it would be a matter of hours.

Iran detains the 23-member crew with the ship. He released seven of them this month, but the rest stayed with the ship.

The decision to release the ship comes just over a week after the attack on Saudi oil installations. Iran has denied any responsibility for the attack – a complex operation involving about two dozen drones and cruise missiles. Air strikes damaged infrastructure and temporarily cut Saudi oil production by half, sending tremors through world markets, but they did not cause casualties.

The Houthi rebel faction in the Yemen civil war – a group known to use weapons supplied by Iran – said it had carried out an attack on Saudi Arabia that had been bombing in Yemen for more than four years, killing thousands.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said early Monday that there was "a very high probability" that Iran was responsible for the strikes in Saudi Arabia and that it did not rule out British involvement in military revenge.

In May and June, several tankers operating near Hormuz Strait were damaged in what the US said was sabotage by Iranian forces – which Iran also denied. Iran has also detained several ships for different periods of time, in particular Stena Impero.

Analysts characterize the attacks, whether carried out by Iran or one of the armed factions he supports in the Middle East, and ship confiscations as a demonstration by Tehran that it has the power to disrupt much of the world's energy supply.

Iran is seeking relief from criminal sanctions imposed by President Trump since he withdrew the US from a 2015 agreement that curtailed the Middle East's nuclear program. Since then, relations have deepened as the US continually adds more economic sanctions as it seeks to stifle oil sales from Iran, the lifeblood of its economy. In recent months, Iran has taken a number of steps to go beyond the limits of the nuclear deal.

The direct confrontation with Britain began on July 4, when British Marines and officers at the port of Gibraltar seized an Iranian tanker, Grace 1, which has since been renamed Adriana Darius 1. It is said that the ship was transporting oil to Syria in violation. the European Union embargo.

Iran has denied the accusation and accused the British of having fabricated history to act against Tehran at Washington's request, though Britain formally opposes US sanctions.

The government of Gibraltar, a semi-autonomous British territory, freed the ship six weeks later and stated that there were assurances that an Iranian tanker would not go to Syria. US officials have requested that the ship be handed over to them, but the Gibraltar government has rejected the request.


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