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Iran Press TV

Zarif: UK's unlawful tanker seizure piracy on behalf of B-Team, must end

Iran Press TV

Mon Jul 8, 2019 12:28PM

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says recent seizure of a tanker carrying Iranian oil by British forces off the coast of Gibraltar is "pure and simple" piracy on behalf of the B-Team.

Taking to his official Twitter page on Monday, Zarif said, "UK's unlawful seizure of a tanker with Iranian oil on behalf of #B_Team is piracy, pure and simple."

The hawkish group referred to as the "B-team" by Iran's foreign minister is comprised of US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Gibraltar police and customs agencies, aided by a detachment of British Royal Marines, boarded and impounded Iranian supertanker Grace 1 in the Strait of Gibraltar on Thursday, upon a request from the United States.

Later that day, Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned Britain's ambassador to the country, Rob Macaire, to express its strong protest at the move. He was told that the British Royal Marines' move was tantamount to "maritime piracy."

In another part of his tweet, Zarif referred to the British government's claim that the tanker had been carrying Iranian oil to Syria, which is under European Union's sanctions, saying talks of the shipment being in breach of the EU bans against Syria were irrelevant as "Iran is neither a member of the EU nor subject to any European oil embargo."

Pointing to the fact that the seizure of the tanker had been conducted at the behest of the US government, which amounts to imposition of US laws on other countries, Zarif noted, "Last I checked, EU was against extraterritoriality."

Iran's top diplomat warned that the illegal measure "sets a dangerous precedent and must end now."

Spain, which challenges the British ownership of Gibraltar, has said the seizure was prompted by a US request to Britain and appeared to have taken place in Spanish waters.

However, the British-claimed overseas territory rejected the claim on Friday, saying that Gibraltar had acted independently.

Gibraltar's position comes as a British Foreign Office spokesman had welcomed the move on Thursday, describing it as a "firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities, acting to enforce the EU Syria Sanctions regime."

Zarif: B-Team behind Trump's withdrawal from JCPOA

In another tweet later on Monday, Iran's foreign minister also held the B-Team responsible for US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

He said, goaded by the B-Team, Trump decided to intensify sanctions on Iran in a manner, which has actually led to "economic terrorism," in the vain hope of getting a better deal with the Islamic Republic.

Zarif said, "#B_Team sold @realDonaldTrump on the folly that killing #JCPOA thru #EconomicTerrorism can get him a better deal."

US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the JCPOA in May 2018 and re-imposed harsh sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism.

Last year, US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled his country out of a 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Iran and unleashed the "toughest ever" sanctions against Tehran, notably targeting its energy sector.

Since its withdrawal from the JCPOA, Washington has been trying to coerce other countries into joining its anti-Iran pressure campaign.

In April, the White House terminated sanctions waivers for major buyers of crude from the Islamic Republic in an attempt to bring Iran's oil exports to "zero."

In another part of his tweet, Zarif dismissed any idea of Iran getting back to negotiations over a new deal with Trump as a result of economic pressures, saying, "As it becomes increasingly clear that there won't be a better deal, they're bizarrely urging Iran's full compliance."

Highlighting the role played by the B-Team in Trump's decisions on Iran, Zarif said even if there is a way out of the current standoff between Tehran and Washington, it won't work as long as Trump is under that team's influence.

"There's a way out, but not with #B_Team in charge," Iran's foreign minister said.

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