1227 GMT October 23, 2019
“The capture of the Iranian oil tanker will not go unanswered and Tehran will give a response to [the UK’s] contemptible move at an appropriate time and place when necessary,” Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri said on Tuesday, according to Press TV.
Gibraltar police and customs agencies, aided by a detachment of British Royal Marines, boarded and impounded the 330-meter supertanker Grace 1, capable of carrying two million barrels of oil, in the Strait of Gibraltar on Thursday.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday described Britain’s “unlawful” seizure of the tanker as an act of “piracy” and urged the European country to immediately release the tanker.
Also on Monday, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami slammed the move and said Tehran will not tolerate such actions.
“The action runs counter to international regulations and is a kind of maritime piracy,” Hatami said.
On Thursday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Britain’s ambassador to the country to express its strong protest at the move.
At the Foreign Ministry, Rob Macaire was told that the British Royal Marines’ move was tantamount to “maritime piracy”, and that the UK must immediately release the oil tanker.
It was also emphasized that Iran will employ all its political and legal capacities to secure the release of the vessel and uphold its rights.
Authorities in Gibraltar claimed that the tanker was carrying crude to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. Iran has denied the accusations.
“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 said on Sunday.
Experts believe the measure taken by the British government in seizing the Iranian tanker is illegal and can have serious consequences for the government in London.
Spain, which challenges the British ownership of Gibraltar, said the action was prompted by a US request to Britain and appeared to have taken place in Spanish waters.