Iran says detained British-flagged ship Stena Impero free to go

Iran says detained British-flagged ship Stena Impero free to go

Nicholas Wu

USA TODAY

Published 7:38 AM EDT Sep 23, 2019

On Monday, Iran said the British oil tanker Stena Impero was free to leave after two months of detention. 

Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee was quoted in FARS, Iran’s semi-official news agency, as saying the Iranian government had decided to condone the vessel’s previous violation of maritime regulations.

According to Rabiyee, the ship would be allowed to leave the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, in southern Iran, with the completion of legal proceedings. 

The IRGC had seized the ship on July 19 and accused it of violating maritime rules and regulations in the Strait of Hormuz, FARS reported at the time. The ship’s seizure had been seen as a sign of retaliation against the previous British detention of an Iranian tanker at Gibraltar. The British released the tanker in mid-August.  

The Stena Impero is British-flagged, but the majority of its 23-member crew are Indian nationals, according to FARS. The rest of the crew are from Russia, Latvia, and the Philippines. 

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Tensions have recently escalated between the United States and Iran after a Sept. 14 attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, though the tanker’s release may signal an Iranian de-escalation. 

It is still unclear, though, what degree of negotiation might take place between the United States and Iran with the start of the United Nations General Assembly this week.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced on Sept. 17 that “there will be no talks with the U.S. at any level.” President Donald Trump, for his part, told reporters before departing Sunday morning for Texas that he had no plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the UN, but “nothing is ever off the table.”

Contributing: Michael Collins, Deirdre Shesgreen


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