U.K. rules out tanker swap with Iran

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Stena Impero (Image: FARS news

Britain’s new Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, has ruled out any exchange of the detained U.K flagged tanker Stena Impero for the Iranian owned Grace I. The idea of such a swap was floated last week by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Today, though, Raab told the BBC’s “Today” radio program, “There is no quid pro quo, Grace 1 was intercepted because it was in breach of sanctions and heading with oil to Syria.”

“We were absolutely lawfully entitled to detain it in the way we did,” he added. “The Stena Impero was unlawfully detained.”

“So this isn’t about some kind of barter,” Raab said. “This is about international law and the rules of the international legal system being upheld, and this is what we will insist on.”

Meantime, a second Royal Navy warship, the Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan, has arrived in the Strait of Hormuz Region, Grace I remains under detention in Gibraltar and Stena Impero continues to be held in Bandar Abbas,

Yesterday, Stena Bulk released the following update:

Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management continue to work closely with the authorities to secure the release of the Stena Impero and its 23 crew members. The vessel remains at anchor in Bandar Abbas.

The crew members remain in good health and continue to have limited contact with family members, who we continue to support during this difficult time.

Following a letter from Iranian authorities to the United Nations Security Council outlining alleged violations of international rules and regulations, including an unconfirmed collision, Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management consider it imperative we are granted access to the vessel to conduct a full assessment. We continue to await a response from Iranian authorities to our request.

As previously stated, from the information we have, there is no current evidence the ship has breached any maritime rules or regulations, and we stand behind the professionalism and conduct of the crew of the Stena Impero.

We hope this situation can be resolved swiftly and will continue to hold an open dialogue with all involved governments and authorities to secure the release of the crew and vessel.

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