Sunday, June 13, 2021

Indonesia releases seized Iranian tanker after four months

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Iran says Indonesia released its seized oil tanker at the end of January after the court process was completed.

The National Iranian Tanker Company announced in a declaration that M.T. Horse and his crew were released on Friday after 125 days as efforts by senior Iranian officials and the country’s foreign ministry paid off.

“Despite experiencing many hardships and not being from family, the professional and dedicated staff of M.T. Horse persisted in defending the national interests and maintaining the export of oil and its derivatives,” the state-owned company announced.

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The vessel has now extended its mission in the country and will return to Iranian waters again, he added.

Indonesia has said its coastguard seized the vessel flagged by Iran, in addition to the Pan Freya flagged by Panamas, due to the alleged illegal transfer of oil into its waters.

Iran’s foreign ministry at the time downplayed the seizure, stating it was a “technical issue”, and such incidents are not uncommon in shipping.

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Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif travels to Indonesia in April and meets with senior officials, including President Joko Widodo. But after the meeting, he and the State Department made no mention of the vessel, saying they had talked about promoting bilateral ties and opposing unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran.

A major target of the harsh U.S. sanctions is Iranian oil exports, and Iran conceals the transfers using a variety of methods, including eliminating tracking systems on its tankers.

The MT Horse was utilized last year to deliver 2.1 million barrels of condensate to fellow U.S.-sanctioned Venezuela.

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