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Iran: Britain may soon release seized tanker

Iran: Britain may soon release seized tanker

In one of the most prominent incidents in the Gulf in the past month, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in what appeared to be a retaliatory move after Gibraltar seized the Iranian oil tanker.

The deputy director of the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran for maritime affairs, Jaleel Eslami, said earlier in the day that the United Kingdom is going to release the Iranian supertanker.

Gibraltar's Supreme Court is scheduled to hold its next hearing on the vessel on Thursday, according to the official Gibraltar news service in Spain. He did not elaborate on the measures, but expressed hope that "the vessel would continue to operate under the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran".

The current detention order on the vessel expires on Saturday night, he added.

"The seizure of the Iranian oil tanker was based on unrealistic reasons and PMO is making efforts to have it released", he said. London has shown willingness to cooperate, he said.

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A highly placed source in the government of Gibraltar-a British overseas territory-told Reuters that Iranian reports of imminent release of the tanker, as soon as today, were not correct.

Tensions in the Persian Gulf have been rising since the United States pulled out of the global 2015 nuclear treaty, under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for lifting most worldwide sanctions on Tehran. Earlier, Gibraltar said it was seeking to de-escalate the situation.

Washington has developed a plan to create a military coalition to escort foreign vessels sailing through the Strait of Hormuz in the strategic Persian Gulf.

Following the arrest of Grace-1 in Gibraltar, a number of Iranian officials spoke of retaliatory measures against Britain, and later, news sources reported that the Revolutionary Guards' naval raids failed to seize one British oil tanker.