Iran releases Indian oil tanker

After being detained for 26 days at Iran's Bandar Abbas Port, Indian oil tanker, MT Desh Shanti, has finally been allowed to leave, two days after the Iranian authorities ordered its release.

"MT Desh Shanti was released at 23:45 hrs (IST) on September 6 and the vessel sailed out from Bander Abbas after receiving her documents," official sources said.

The vessel, which can carry 1,40,000 tonnes of crude, was detained by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps in the Persian Gulf while carrying crude from Basrah, Iraq, on August 12. Authorities claimed it was detained over environmental and pollution concerns.

A top Shipping Ministry official said, "We have not paid anything. Only normal LoU (an undertaking as per practice)." India had strongly objected to the detention, saying it was a "colourable" exercise in transgression of UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea. India said the vessel, on a "innocent passage" from Basrah to Visakhapatnam, was "forcibly diverted" to Iranian waters and then subjected to Port State Control (PSC) inspection.

In a strongly-worded letter to Iran, India made it clear that PSC is a legitimate mechanism to be utilised prudently Iranians have maintained that the detention was "purely a technical and non-political issue".

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