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British tanker held by Iran is released and reaches Dubai Open in fullscreen

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British tanker held by Iran is released and reaches Dubai

The Stena Impero was seized in July [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 September, 2019

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A British tanker has reached Dubai after ten-week detention in Iran.

A British-flagged tanker seized by Iran for ten weeks arrived in Dubai on Friday, after being released by Tehran authorities in the morning.

Authorities and a tracking website reported that the Stena Impero had arrived at Dubai's Port Rashid, after in was held by Tehran in July sparking a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the UK.

It followed the detention of an Iranian tanker on suspicion it was shipping oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions by Gibraltar, an overseas British territory. 

Tehran repeatedly denied that it seized the British tanker in response to this case, and refused to free the Stena Impero despite Gibraltar releasing the Iranian vessel.

"The Stena Impero started sailing from the mooring towards the Persian Gulf's international waters as of 9:00 am (5:30am GMT) today," Hormozgan province's maritime organisation said on its website.

"Despite the vessel's clearance, its legal case is still open in Iran's courts," it said.

The tanker's captain and crew have "given a written, official statement that they have no claims", it added.

The CEO of Stena Bulk, the Swedish company that owns the vessel, said it had reached international waters at around 9:45am GMT as it headed for Dubai, where its crew will be repatriated.

Erik Hanell told AFP it was "obviously a relief" and added that the priority now was those on board.

"When we reach Dubai we will firstly take care of the crew and then try and get the ship in operational order again," he said.

The vessel arrived off the coast of Dubai shortly after midnight local time (8pm GMT), and was stopped in the busy waterway, according to MarineTraffic.com, a ship tracking website.

Despite the standoff, the UK has made efforts to bring Iran back to the negotiation table with the US.

At the UN General Assembly in New York, President Hassan Rouhani announced a plan called "Hormuz Peace Endeavour" or "HOPE".

He gave no details but called on all of Iran's Gulf neighbours to join, saying, "Security cannot be provided with American weapons and intervention."

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted Thursday that the plan calls for "dialogue, confidence-building, freedom of navigation, energy security, non-aggression, non-intervention."

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