By BIMAN MUKHERJI and BENOIT FAUCON
Iran has agreed to release an Indian oil tanker that was
detained by its naval authorities more than three weeks ago,
Indian and Iranian officials said Thursday, in a likely end to
an issue that had threatened to affect relations between the
Iran detained the ship carrying crude oil from Iraq to India
on Aug. 13, saying it was polluting Iranian waters. India had
denied the allegation, and according to the tanker's owner,
state-run Shipping Corp. of India, the vessel wasn't in Iranian
waters when it was detained.
New Delhi and Tehran traditionally have had strong
diplomatic ties and India is one of the few destinations
for Iran's oil, but the prolonged dispute over the tanker has
raised tensions on both sides. Western sanctions on Iran had
apparently complicated matters, making it difficult for
insurers to submit guarantees to Tehran or adjudicate the
matter, according to officials.
"I have been told that the Iranian authorities have agreed
to release it. That is the message I have got from our own
ambassador," said an official at India's Ministry of Shipping, who
didn't want to be named.
He couldn't give details about what helped resolve the
An official at Iran's Port and Maritime Organization said
there was a plan to release the tanker.
The Port and Maritime Organization's website, however, said
Iran has released the ship after a deposit guarantee was made.
It didn't say who issued the guarantee.
Jonathan Andrews, head of underwriting at Steamship Mutual,
where the ship is insured, declined to comment Thursday.
The ship, MT Desh Shanti, is a 158,030-deadweight-ton tanker
built in 2004, according to Shipping Corp. of India's website.
According to an Iranian port official in August, the tanker
was detained because it discharged wastes and water mixed with
crude near the country's Iran's Lavan island, in Persian Gulf.
An inspection of the vessel later turned up extensive
violations of regulations, including a nonfunctioning
oil-and-water separation device, another official had
Dow Jones Newswires