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Gibraltar says no immediate plan to release Iranian tanker

Gibraltar says no immediate plan to release Iranian tanker

However, a senior Gibraltar official, speaking anonymously due to protocol, told the Associated Press that suggestions the tanker could depart on Tuesday night were "untrue".

The British territory of Gibraltar will not yet release an Iranian oil tanker seized by Royal Marines in the Mediterranean despite an Iranian report that it could do so on Tuesday, an official Gibraltar source said.

Iranian ports and maritime organization deputy head Jalil Eslami, in his remarks quoted by IRNA news agency, said, "Britain is interested in releasing Iran's oil tanker Grace 1 ... following the exchange of some documents, we hope the release will take place soon".

On July 19, Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps seized the British oil tanker "Stena Impero" in the Strait of Hormuz for what it called "failing to respect the global maritime rules while passing through the strait".

Gibraltar said on Tuesday it was seeking to de-escalate issues arising with Iran since the detention of the tanker.

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

Gibraltar and U.S. officials believed the tanker was destined for Syria to deliver oil, in violation of separate sets of European Union and USA sanctions.

Britain, which repeatedly ruled out any exchange and has since been giving UK-flagged vessels in the region a naval escort, joined a US-led security mission in the narrow passageway on August 5 in order to secure maritime traffic.

Following the arrest of Grace-1 in Gibraltar, a number of Iranian officials spoke of retaliatory measures against Britain, and later, news sources reported that the Revolutionary Guards' naval raids failed to seize one British oil tanker.

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.