Iran’s nuclear talks with several European nations are falling apart. In the midst of the intense discussions, Iran released crew members from a detained ship in a supposed goodwill gesture yesterday.
Seven of the 23 sailors aboard the British oil tanker Stena Impero flew out of Iran after being released, says Erik Hanell, chief executive officer of the shipping company.
The crew members “are now travelling to a safe location where they will be reunited with their families,” Hanell says. “They will receive medical checks and a debriefing before being repatriated (sent back) to their home countries at the earliest opportunity.”
Iran seized the tanker in July, claiming it violated Iranian laws. The capture came after authorities in the British territory of Gibraltar seized a ship apparently carrying fuel to Syria. That ship was in violation of an European Union ban on oil sales to the Syrian government. British officials released that Iranian vessel in August.
For now, the remaining 16 British crew members will stay onboard the Stena Impero.
Meanwhile, Iranian officials say the deadline to salvage the nuclear talks expires today. Iran has long insisted its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Officials deny the country seeks an atomic bomb.
Because of Iran’s refusal to stick to the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal, the United States continues to try to choke off Iran’s crude oil sales abroad. Those sales are a crucial source of Iran’s revenue. Iran’s atomic energy agency could make an announcement on Saturday detailing its next step. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani describes that move as highly significant.
“We will sell our oil, one way or the other,” Zarif says. “The United States will not be able to prevent that.”
(In this June 13, 2019, photo, an oil tanker is on fire in the Gulf of Oman. Iran stands poised on Friday, September 6, 2019, to further break the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. AP Photo/ISNA, File)