Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, hinted that Iran might release the British tanker it seized if the British military also agreed to release the Iranian ship which was seized off the coast of Gibraltar.
Iranian officials described the seizing of the British tanker as “retaliation” for the British capturing an Iranian vessel earlier this month. They had previously implied that such an offer might be made, to which the Britain has already made clear that the fate of the Iranian tanker will be decided by the Gibraltar court system.
The Iranian tanker was seized by Great Britain on July 4th off the cost of Gibraltar, with the latter alleging that the former was supplying oil to Syria, thereby violating a European Union embargo.
The offer is being seen as an effort by Rouhani’s government to reduce the escalating tension between Iran and the West.
As per the report on the official Iranian government site, Rouhani said, “Of course, there are countries as intermediaries, and there are correspondences and calls underway, and everyone should know that we will never miss the opportunity for negotiation.”
Behind-the-scenes or indirect talks about a probable easing of tensions between the United States and Iran were also hinted at by Rouhani after a cabinet meeting in Tehran.
The tensions between these countries arose with Washington’s withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear accord last year, and the situation was further escalated with US president Donald Trump imposing disastrous sanctions against Iran.
The 2015 nuclear accord was a deal between Iran and P5+1 countries, namely the UK, Russia, US, China, France, and Germany, about Iran agreeing to limit its nuclear program in return for easing of the economic sanctions imposed on the country. But Trump condemned the deal, which was first signed during the Obama administration, terming it a disaster, and assured to force Iran to sign a new and far more-restrictive pact. Stena Bulk, the Swedish company that owns the captured British-flagged tanker, said that it was able to contact the crew on Wednesday. It said in a statement, “Everyone was safe, with good cooperation with the Iranian personnel onboard”.