British Royal Marines seized the Grace 1, an Iranian oil tanker in the Strait of Gibraltor on July 4. Now Iranian officials said they are close to getting the tanker released. File Photo by British Ministry of Defense/EPA-EFE
Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The Iranian oil tanker seized by British Royal Marines last month could be released soon, officials in Tehran said.
Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization said it has made efforts to secure the release of the tanker, which is loaded with 2.1 million barrels of oil, the group's deputy head Jalil Eslami said. London has shown willingness to cooperate, he said.
"Certain documents have been exchanged, which would help settle the issue," Elsami said. "We hope that the problem will be resolved in the near future and that the ship can continue sailing with the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Iran's state-run Fars news agency tweeted a photo of the ship, called Grace 1, saying "we expect to continue operating in the international waters with the Iranian flag in the very near future."
British authorities have not commented on the matter.
Britain said the tanker was seized on suspicion that it violated the European Union's ban against selling oil to Syria. Tehran denies that the tanker was heading to Syria and calls Britain's actions "maritime piracy."
The ship did signal Morocco as its destination, tanker tracking websites show.
Iran seized a British oil tanker on July 19 saying it crashed into an Iranian fishing boat and ignored its distress call. Esmali said Britain and the United States used that seizure as justification for forming a maritime coalition to protect Western oil interests in the Persian Gulf.