The Stena Impero at Bander Abass port
The Stena Impero at Bander Abass portReuters

Iran on Sunday hinted that it could release a UK-flagged oil tanker it had seized in July in the Persian Gulf "within days", AFP reports.

Foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was quoted as having told state television the "necessary steps" to set the ship free were "underway".

"The final steps of the legal procedure are underway and, God willing, the boat will be released in the coming days," he said, without giving further details.

The Stena Impero, British-owned but operated by Swedish company Stena Bulk, was captured by Iran's Revolutionary Guards on July 19 after passing through the strait at the mouth of the Gulf.

While the incident took place after the UK and Gibraltar seized the Iran-flagged tanker Grace 1 in early July on the grounds that it was attempting to transport oil to Syria, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied the move was an act of revenge for the capture of the Iranian tanker.

Gibraltar released the Grace 1, which has since been renamed the Adrian Darya 1, on August 18 after receiving written assurances from Iran that it would not head to countries under EU sanctions.

On Sunday, Mousavi said the Adrian Darya "has reached its destination and the oil has been sold", without providing further details.

He did not specify if the Adrian Darya had unloaded its cargo, saying only "it is in the Mediterranean" and facing the coast of a country he did not name.