British tanker ‘Stena Impero’ sets sail from Iranian port after being cleared to leave by Tehran

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British-flagged tanker ‘Stena Impero,’ which was seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz in July, has left the southern port of Bandar Abbas and set sail towards the United Arab Emirates.

The tanker was cleared by Iranian authorities to resume its voyage earlier this week. Iran’s ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad reported on Monday that the ship was “free to leave pursuant to the completion of the judicial and legal process.” However, the vessel remained anchored at the Iranian port until early on Friday.

This changed at about 9am local time, when the tanker left the port, according to Iranian maritime officials and tracking data, as reported by Reuters.

On Wednesday, the CEO of Sweden’s Stena Bulk, which owns the ship, said that the crew was ready to depart any moment. Once it receives a green light from the Iranian authorities, the ship would steer for a port in the United Arab Emirates, the CEO said. Citing Refinitiv ship-tracking data, Reuters reported early on Friday that the vessel has logged Port Rashid, a commercial port in Dubai, as its destination.

The tanker was seized by the Iranian Navy as it entered the Strait of Hormuz in mid-July for ‘violating maritime rules’ amid a flare-up in tensions between Tehran and London. The row started when the Royal Navy captured an Iranian oil tanker off the cost of Gibraltar at Washington’s request, on foot of an allegation that it was smuggling oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. However, Gibraltar later determined that the tanker did not violate any EU laws, refusing to cave in to US pressure and enforce much harsher sanctions imposed by the US on Iran.

Washington again demanded that the tanker be seized, arguing that it was used to ferry Iranian crude at the behest of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an elite military unit designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US, but not the EU or other world powers.

The tanker, renamed from ‘Grace 1’ to ‘Adrian Darya,’ was eventually released on August 15, and has since sold all its cargo, according to Tehran.

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