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EghtesadOnline: A senior Iranian official expressed hope that the recent exchange of relevant documents signals the imminent release of the Iranian oil tanker detained by Britain.

"The UK has shown willingness to solve this problem and documents that can help address the issue have been exchanged," Jalil Eslami, the deputy head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization, told a news conference on Tuesday, IRNA reported.  

On July 4, Britain seized an Iranian oil tanker named Grace 1 off the coast of the British territory of Gibraltar on suspicion of violating EU sanctions on Syria. Tehran denied the accusation, calling for the immediate release of the ship. 

Eslami said there was no valid reason behind the seizure, hoping that this ship can continue to sail under Iran's flag in the near future, according to Financial Tribune.

Gibraltar also said on Tuesday that it was seeking to de-escalate issues with Iran since the vessel's detention. 

“We continue to seek to de-escalate issues arising with Iran since the lawful detention of Grace 1,” a spokesman for Gibraltar said, Reuters reported.

The current detention order on the vessel expires on Saturday night, the spokesman said.

Eslami said Iran's maritime operations, both in oil and commercial sectors, are continuing as usual, despite minor challenges. 

"In proportion with the size of the fleet, the volume of transit and the breadth of seas, we see the current situation as normal," he said. 

The PMO official noted that Iranian oil tankers have in recent months faced some trouble that came into the spotlight because of the current circumstances, but would have been considered ordinary had they occurred in the past few years. 

"[They] were not related to sanctions and political issues, but were highlighted on political platforms," he said.

Maritime incidents have become sensitive following a series of events, including several oil tanker attacks in the Persian Gulf in May.  

The United States, which is at odds with Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal, accused Iran of being behind the attacks, calling for an international naval mission to protect free shipping across the Strait of Hormuz, the world's most strategic oil chokepoint. 

The UK agreed to join the American initiative after a British-flagged ship was captured by Iran in the Persian Gulf for violating maritime regulations.

Iranian officials maintain that security operations are being seriously pursued by Iran in the Persian Gulf waters and the presence of foreign forces would destabilize the region. 

"Iranian military forces have provided security for global shipping in the Persian Gulf and no country should be concerned about transiting the waters with its flag," Eslami assured. 


Iran Britain Oil Tanker Release Upbeat Grace 1