Iran on Thursday ordered the release of an Indian tanker seized by it in the Persian Gulf while carrying crude oil from Basrah in Iraq and taken to its Bandar Abbas Port 24 days ago. The vessel,MT Desh Shanti,with capacity to carry 1,40,000 tonnes of crude oil was seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps on August 12 citing environmental and pollution concerns. Iran has ordered release of the Indian oil tanker, a source in the MEA said.
Meanwhile,the Shipping Ministry also indicated the possibility of positive developments and were awaiting the confirmation on the actual release of the vessel belonging to Shipping Corporation of India. The development follows parleys between the two countries with India strongly objecting to the detention,saying it was a colourable exercise in transgression of UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea and warning of serious ramifications.
Objecting to pollution charges,India has said the vessel on a innocent passage from Basrah to Visakhapatnam was not voluntarily destined at any Iranian port and was forcibly diverted to Iranian waters and then subject to PSC inspection.
In a strongly-worded letter to Iran,India had made it clear that PSC is a legitimate mechanism to be utilised prudently and any arbitrary enforcement of this well-established regime can have serious ramifications on the smooth conduct of international maritime transport and may send alarming messages to the shipping community…
Last week,Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh had summoned the Iranian Ambassador Gholamreza Ansari to lodge a strong protest. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had also asserted that it was important that New Delhi does not concede any point.