Iran: Oil tanker seized by UK not bound for Syria
Iran Press TV
Sun Jul 7, 2019 07:38AM
Iran says an oil supertanker seized by Britain in Gibraltar was not carrying oil to Syria, denouncing the seizure as "maritime piracy".
British Royal Marines boarded the Grace 1 on Thursday and seized it over accusations it was breaking sanctions by taking oil to Syria.
"Contrary to Britain's announcement, the tanker was not bound for Syria, and the port mentioned is not capable of receiving such a tanker," Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told reporters at a news conference in Tehran Sunday.
The seized tanker is a 2 million barrel capacity very large crude carrier (VLCC), Araqchi said, adding it could not pass through the Suez Canal and that was why it had to go the extra mile through Gibraltar.
The tanker was in international waters when it was encroached on, he said, disputing London's claims that Royal Marines boarded the ship off the coast of the British territory.
Spain has said it planned to lodge a formal complaint about the action, because it considers the sea around Gibraltar to be part of its international waters. Spanish authorities have said the seizure came at the request of the US.
"In this regard, the law will take its course. This is a maritime piracy; the tanker was in international waters," Araqchi said, adding Iran had summoned the British ambassador to Tehran twice in protest.
"We hope the tanker issue will be resolved soon," he said.
On Friday, a former chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said Iran should consider seizing a British oil tanker in response to the seizure.
"If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities' duty to seize a British oil tanker," Mohsen Rezai said on Twitter.
An Iranian cleric on Saturday said Britain should be "scared" about Tehran's possible retaliation for the seizure of the vessel.
"I am openly saying that Britain should be scared of Iran's retaliatory measures over the illegal seizure of the Iranian oil tanker," said Mohammad Ali Mousavi Jazayeri, a member of the Assembly of Experts.
"We have shown that we will never remain silent against bullying… As we gave a staunch response to the American drone, the appropriate response to this illegal capture will be given by Iran as well," he said.
Jazayeri was referring to the downing of a US drone last month for intruding Iran's airspace.
British troops have reportedly left the ship, but police and customs officials inteviewing
were all 28 crew members remain on the vessel while being interviewed as witnesses. The crew is comprised of mainly Indian, Pakistani and Ukrainian nationals, he said.
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