The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Saudi Arabia releases Iranian oil tanker after two and a half months: Iranian media Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Saudi Arabia releases Iranian oil tanker after two and a half months: Iranian media

Saudi Arabia has released an Iranian oil tanker [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 21 July, 2019

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
After two and half months, Saudi authorities have allowed an Iranian oil tanker to return to Iran amid heightened tensions in the region.

Saudi Arabia has released an Iranian oil tanker after two and a half months, Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency is reporting.

Happyness 1, belonging to the Iranian National Tanker Company (NITC), which was carrying over 1 million barrels of fuel oil, suffered a malfunction in the Red Sea off the coast of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on April 30.

Mehr said Saudi officials had prevented the oil tanker from leaving the Jeddah port despite the fact that Iran had paid all the costs of maintenance and repair that the Saudi authorities had demanded.

Saudi authorities released the tanker and all its crew, including 24 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.

This comes amid heightened tensions in the region following the seizure of a British-flagged tanker by Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

The UK's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the seizing of the tanker "raises very serious questions about the security of British shipping and indeed international shipping" in the Strait of Hormuz.

Hunt spoke to reporters Saturday evening after an emergency government meeting about the "totally and utterly unacceptable" interception of the Stena Impero and "measures that we are going to take" to guarantee British vessels safe passage.

Hunt said that while speaking with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Saturday, he again rejected Iran's assertion that Friday's incident reciprocated for Royal Marines taking part in the July 4 seizure of an Iranian tanker.

He said the Iranian tanker, seized off the coast of Gibraltar, violated European Union sanctions by carrying oil to Syria, making its detention in the waters of a British territory legal.

Hunt said Iranian officials "see this as a tit-for-tat situation, following Grace1 being detained in Gibraltar. Nothing could be further from the truth."

He continued: "We need to see the illegal seizing of a British-flagged vessel reversed, we need that ship released, and we continue to be very concerned about the safety and welfare of the 23 crew members."

The tit-for-tat move by Iran drew condemnation from European signatories to a nuclear accord with world powers, which includes the UK. 

Germany and France both called on Iran to immediately release the ship and its crew, with Berlin saying the seizure undermines all efforts to find a way out of the current crisis.

Europe has struggled to contain the tensions that stem from President Donald Trump's decision to pull the US from Iran's landmark 2015 nuclear deal, which had lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for restrictions and inspections.

Trump has since re-imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran, including its oil exports and beefed up its military presence in the Gulf.

The route of the Grace 1 Oil Tanker from Iran to Gibraltar, where it was seized

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More