Is 'tanker war' with Iran over?

Is 'tanker war' with Iran over?

The British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero seized by Iran in July has started to move out of the port of Bandar Abbas where it has been held, the Swedish owner of the tanker Erik Hanell said.

“The ship is on the move,” Stena Bulk CEO Erik Hanell said in a text message. “We will comment further when the ship reaches international waters,” Reuters cited him as saying.

The vessel was heading for Dubai’s Port Rashid in the United Arab Emirates, about 250 km away, Refinitiv tracking data showed. At normal tanker speed, it would reach that destination within half a day.

Iran’s seizure of the ship on July 19 ratcheted up tensions in the region after attacks in May and June on other merchant vessels in Gulf waters, which Washington blamed on Tehran. Iran has denied responsibility.

The Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran in Hormozgan Province said in a statement that the ship had begun moving from Bandar Abbas at 9 a.m. Iran time (0530 GMT) on Friday and said it was heading towards international waters. It said the judicial file on the vessel was still open and the process of looking into “violations” by the ship continued.

Iran had earlier released seven of the ship’s 23 crew members.

The deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association, Andrey Baklanov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the current tanker war in the Gulf has become one of the inevitable consequences of the unhealthy military situation created in the Persian Gulf by the United States and some regional countries that pursue an ill-conceived policy of forceful resolution of problems in the absence of coordination between the countries of the region.

According to the expert, uniting around the proposal to create a concept of collective security in the Persian Gulf region, which involves a unified system for resolving problematic issues between the countries of the region, may help the resolve the situation.

In this regard, he recalled that an international meeting was held in Moscow last week with the participation of Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, as well as Great Britain, France, and China. “I proposed that the creation of a mechanism that the parties in the region would trust to verify the facts is the most necessary thing to do now,” the expert said.

At the same time, it is prematurely to say that this peaceful offensive will be successful, because not all parties have agreed with the idea of ​​creating a regional security system. "The Americans, for example, are keeping quiet about this," the deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association stressed.

Speaking about the impact of such incidents as the detention of the Iranian tanker Grace 1 by Britain and the detention of the British tanker Stena Impero by Iran on the Iranian-European relations, the expert noted that such situations clearly lead to the deterioration of Iranian-European relations.

Senior research fellow of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Sazhin, agreed with Baklanov. “The situation is still rather complicated, and while the situation in the Persian Gulf, especially in the Strait of Hormuz, is not stabilized, everything is possible. Nobody can guarantee that tension has disappeared,” he emphasized.

“Of course, the situation with the detentions of the Iranian and British tankers only worsened relations between Tehran and Europe, although Europe still favors preserving the JCPOA. In general, the European Union, especially the JCPOA sponsors Germany, France and the UK do a lot to so that the nuclear deal with Iran would not be ruined. However, Tehran’s retaliatory moves, like the Stena Impero situation, question Europe's desire to defend these interests to the end," Vladimir Sazhin concluded.

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