Impounded Ship Will Be Released After Debt Settlement

Impounded Ship Will Be Released After Debt SettlementImpounded Ship Will Be Released After Debt Settlement

The cargo ship confiscated by Iran will be released after the company operating the Marshall Islands-flagged vessel settles its outstanding debts with the plaintiff, an Iranian private company.

“The ship will be released after the settlement of debts by Maersk Shipping Line and will be allowed to sail to its final destination,” the Islamic Republic’s embassy in Denmark said in a statement on Friday.

The naval units of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) reportedly fired warning shots and boarded the Maersk Tigris in the strategic Strait of Hormuz and directed it to the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas on Tuesday.

The statement said the seizure was based on a court order over financial differences based on which the Iranian plaintiff had sued the Danish company, IRNA reported.

“The April 28 seizure of the ship was based on a court ruling following private litigation for debts owed to Iranian companies.  Over the years the judicial process had run its course during which the parties to the dispute had attended multiple court sessions, presented evidence and even appealed against preliminary court decisions. A final verdict, including conviction to pay compensation was issued against Maersk Shipping Line earlier this year.”

The statement dismissed the claim that the move was in violation of international law, saying, “The action by Iranian authorities is based on the laws and regulations of the Islamic Republic of Iran and in accordance with international laws and norms.”

  Crew Well and Safe

The embassy assured in the statement that all the 34 crew members of the ship are “safe” and “are being well looked after” and “there is no limitation to consular access to them; this will be granted in case of need or request.”

Iranian authorities reiterate that “there is absolutely no political or security motive or consideration behind the incident. The seizure of the ship was solely an enforcement of a judicial court ruling resulting from a commercial dispute between two private parties,” the statement stressed.

Upon the receipt of a distress call from the Maersk, the US navy dispatched a destroyer and three coastal patrol ships which were operating in the vicinity, and a reconnaissance aircraft to monitor the incident.

Some US officials reacted to the measure, namely Republican Senator John McCain, who described it as a “serious and deliberate provocation,” and US Army Colonel Steve Warren who said it was “inappropriate” and seemed “provocative,” Reuters reported.

The Iranian foreign ministry issued a statement on Wednesday, defending the move as “legal” and in accordance with “international regulations and protocols.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif assured that Tehran is committed to maintaining freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf.

“The Persian Gulf is our lifeline ... We will respect international navigation,” he said in an interview at New York University, stressing, “For us, freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf is a must.”