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Iran to release crew members from detained British tanker: State media

Iran said it had rejected a $15bn loan from France as tensions continue over nuclear deal
Iranian Revolutionary Guards patrol around the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero as it's anchored off the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas (AFP)

Iran will free seven crew members of a detained British tanker, Stena Impero, according to Iranian state media

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told Iranian state TV on Wednesday that the seven were freed on humanitarian grounds and could leave Iran soon.

The Stena Impero was detained by Tehran on 19 July, two weeks after Britain detained an Iranian tanker off the territory of Gibraltar.

That ship was released in August.

The incident came amid rising tensions over the collapse of a 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran's state-run Press TV reported on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic had rejected an offer of a $15bn loan by European countries aimed at protecting its economy from sanctions reimposed by the United States.

France to offer Iran $15bn in credit lines, but move hinges on US approval: Report
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The report came shortly after a senior official suggested Iran might agree to a similar deal with European powers.

"Iran has rejected a $15 billion loan offered by EU," reported Iran's English-language Press TV without elaborating.

France said on Tuesday that it had planned to offer Iran about $15bn in credit lines on condition that the country comes back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian said talks on the credit arrangement, which would be guaranteed by Iranian oil revenues, were continuing, but that US approval would be crucial, Reuters news agency reported.

In an email to Middle East Eye on Tuesday, a senior Trump administration official did not comment on whether Washington planned to issue waivers for France to issue the credit lines.

But the official said that Trump "has been clear: Iran isn’t going to receive tangible economic benefits from the United States for reverting back to a completely inadequate agreement". 

"The Europeans are desperate to salvage a terrible deal."

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has warned that international waterways would be less secure if his country's oil exports face complete sanctions.