Gibraltar Seeking to De-Escalate Tensions with Iran

The current detention order on the vessel expires on Saturday night after which a court is to decide on its fate

A highly placed source in the government of Gibraltar-a British overseas territory-told Reuters that Iranian reports of imminent release of the tanker, as soon as today, were not correct.

Britain said later on Tuesday that investigations into the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 were a matter for Gibraltar.

Britain have said there would be serious consequences if Iran did not release the British vessel.

But Iran's semi-official Fars news agency quoted unidentified Gibraltar authorities as saying that it will be freed tonight.

"We hope the problem will be resolved in the near future and the ship can continue sailing with the flag of Iran", he added.

Several high-profile incidents in recent weeks and months have increased the tension between Iran and the West in the Middle East and in the most important oil shipping corridor in the world, the Strait of Hormuz, which is in close proximity to Iranian coasts.

Gibraltar said on Tuesday it was seeking to de-escalate issues arising with Iran since the detention. For this reason, Iran has taken other measures to circumvent the sanctions, which are said to include shipping oil to global waters. Iran claimed that the vessel, the Stena Impero, had been "violating worldwide maritime rules". Tehran denies that the tanker was heading to Syria and calls Britain's actions "maritime piracy".

On August 6, Israeli regime's Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that they will be part of the US-led anti-Iran coalition. Some EU member states earlier announced the formation of a European security force to escort merchant ships crossing the Strait of Hormuz.

Last week, Israel's Ynet website reported that Israel is providing intelligence and other, unspecified assistance to USA -led efforts to protect Persian Gulf shipping routes. For example, President Hassan Rouhani said that "it doesn't make sense that Iran can't export its oil but others are able".



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