Iran says detained British oil tanker is free to leave, but no timetable given
Stena Impero seized in July amid tensions between Tehran and the West
An Iranian government spokesperson said Monday that all legal steps had been completed for the release of the detained British-flagged tanker Stena Impero, but he did not know when the vessel would be released, Iranian media reported.
"The legal work for the oil tanker is over ... and the oil tanker can move, and the decisions indicate the end of the detention," government spokesperson Ali Rabiei was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency. He did not elaborate.
The July 19 seizure of the ship, two weeks after Britain detained an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar, has cranked up tensions in the region in the wake of attacks on other merchant vessels that Washington blamed on Tehran.
Iran denied responsibility for those attacks along the Strait of Hormuz, a vital international oil shipping route.
"The legal work and administrative procedures for the release of the English tanker have been completed, but I have no information on the time of the release," Rabiei said, according to semi-official news agency ILNA.
Relations between the United States, its allies and Iran have been gradually more strained since Washington withdrew last year from a global pact aimed at reining in Tehran's nuclear program and imposed sanctions on it aimed at shutting down Iranian oil exports.