Iran still holding British tanker despite lifting detention order

British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero is still being held in Iran, despite Tehran lifting a detention order on the vessel. (File/AP)
Updated 25 September 2019

Iran still holding British tanker despite lifting detention order

  • Stena Bulk said it was not in negotiations with Iran
  • Iran said earlier that a lifting of the detention order had been finalized

STOCKHOLM: British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero is still being held in Iran, despite Tehran lifting a detention order on the vessel, its owner said on Wednesday.
Sweden’s Stena Bulk said it was not in negotiations with Iran and not aware of any formal charges against the crew or the company.
Iran’s foreign ministry said earlier that a lifting of the detention order had been finalized, but that an investigation into the vessel was ongoing.
“We haven’t been accused of anything. Not through any formal letter or anything else to the company. We are still in the dark over why we are anchored in Bandar Abbas,” Stena Bulk CEO Erik Hanell told Reuters by telephone.
He said the ship was fueled and ready to sail for a port in the United Arab Emirates as soon as it was cleared to leave.
Iranian forces seized the Stena Impero on July 19 for alleged marine violations two weeks after British marines detained an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar. The Iranian vessel was released in August.
The actions followed attacks on other merchant vessels in Gulf oil shipping routes which Washington blamed on Tehran. Iran has denied responsibility.
Hanell said tensions in the region had seen the company tighten security around its ships.
“Our British-flagged ships are now escorted by British frigates. We have a higher level of risk management now,” he said.
The head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, Mohammad Rastad, said on Monday the Stena Impero was free to depart from Bandar Abbas port after legal hurdles had been cleared.
Hanell said there were still Iranian guards on the ship and he had no idea why the ship had not been allowed to leave yet.
“We had a dialogue with them up until the end of last week. We thought everything was ready (for the ship to be released),” Hanell said.
Iran freed seven of the 23 crew members earlier this month and Stena Bulk has tried to get the rest out as well, in part by offering a crew exchange.
“We thought it would have been reasonable, but we weren’t allowed to do it,” Hanell said.


Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

Updated 29 October 2020

Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

  • A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”

BEIRUT: Lebanese negotiators laid out their claim to maritime territory on Wednesday as they began a second round of talks with Israel over their disputed sea border.
The contested zone in the Mediterranean is an estimated 860 square kilometers known as Block 9, which is rich in oil and gas. Future negotiations will also tackle the countries’ land border.
Wednesday’s meeting took place at the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) amid tight security. An assistant of the UN special coordinator for Lebanon chaired the session, and the US Ambassador to Algeria, John Desrocher, was the mediator.
A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”
The Lebanese delegation produced maps and documents to support their claim to the disputed waters.
In indirect talks between Lebanon and Israel in 2012, US diplomat Frederick Hoff proposed “a middle line for the maritime borders, whereby Lebanon would get 58 percent of the disputed area and Israel would be given the remaining 42 percent, which translates to 500 square kilometers for Lebanon and 300 square kilometers for Israel.”
On the eve of Wednesday’s meeting, Lebanese and Israeli officials met to discuss a framework to resolve the conflict through the implementation of UN Resolution 1701.
UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col praised the “constructive role that both parties played in calming tensions along the Blue Line” and stressed the necessity of “taking proactive measures and making a change in the prevailing dynamics regarding tension and escalation.”