Gibraltar Denies It is Due to Release Seized Iranian Tanker

The Grace 1 super tanker suspected of carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions in the British territory of Gibraltar after it was detained

The Gibraltar government does not officially confirm reports that it intends to release Iran's Grace 1 supertanker later on Tuesday, an official representative of Gibraltar told Sputnik.

"We believe that (the) Grace 1 oil tanker will resume operation under (the) Iranian flag in worldwide waters in the very near future", Eslami said, according to Iran's Fars news agency.

Gibraltar - a British overseas territory - seized the Grace 1 supertanker on July 4 with the help of British Royal Marines on suspicion it was shipping oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. It is suspected of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria, and its seizure deepened worldwide tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Although Grace 1 was seized by British forces, Britain said on Tuesday that investigations into the tanker were a matter for Gibraltar.

"The vessel was seized based on false allegations.it has not been freed yet", Eslami said. "We hope the release will take place soon".

Meanwhile, the country's semi-official Fars news agency quoted unidentified Gibraltar authorities saying Grace 1 will be freed by Tuesday evening.

Gibraltar authorities said the tanker was carrying Iranian oil to Syria.

Tanker Trackers, a company that monitors ship movements, said Grace-1 was sending signals on Monday that indicate it will leave Gibraltar toward a destination in Morocco, although the vessel is still in Gibraltar.

Eslami also defended Tehran's confiscation on July 19 of the 30,000-tonne UK-flagged Stena Impero tanker, which was violating global maritime rules while passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

The Gulf tanker crisis has added to worsening hostilities since Washington pulled out of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with six powers, under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for lifting most worldwide sanctions on Tehran.

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