Gibraltar refused on Sunday a US request to seize the Iranian tanker caught in a stand-off between Tehran and the West, as the stationary vessel raised an Iranian flag ahead of its expected departure from the British territory.
The ship was expected to leave on Sunday night, according to a statement on Twitter by Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador to Britain.
Messages seeking comment from the Iranian embassy in London were not immediately returned.
On Sunday, video footage and photographs showed the tanker flying the red, green and white flag of Iran and bearing its new name, painted in white, on the hull. Its previous name, ‘Grace 1’, had been painted over. The vessel’s anchor was still down.
The initial impounding of the Grace 1 kicked off a sequence of events that saw Tehran seize a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf two weeks later, heightening tension on a vital international oil shipping route. That tanker, the Stena Impero, is still detained.
The tanker’s release comes amid a growing confrontation between Iran and the West after President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers over a year ago.