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Iran: British capture of Iranian tanker is 'maritime robbery'

July 7, 2019 at 2:27 pm

An Iranian oil tanker, Dena, seen approaching Port of Rotterdam, Holland on 15 December 2007 [AlfvanBeem/Wikipedia]

An Iranian tanker captured by British Royal Marines in Gibraltar was not headed to Syria, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Sunday in a press conference broadcast live on state TV, reports Reuters.

Royal Marines seized the Iraninan supertanker Grace 1 on Thursday for trying to take oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, a dramatic intervention described as “maritime robbery” by Araqchi.

The minister said the giant tanker has a capacity of up to two million barrels of oil and that is why it was travelling through the Strait of Gibraltar rather than the Suez Canal.

He did not give information on the tanker’s final destination.

Read: Saudi Arabia holds Iranian oil tanker in Jeddah

“Despite what the government of England is claiming, the target and destination of this tanker wasn’t Syria,” Araqchi said, adding:

The port that they have named in Syria essentially does not have the capacity for such a supertanker. The target was somewhere else. It was passing through international waters through the Strait of Gibraltar and there is no law that allows England to stop this tanker.

In our view the stopping of this ship was maritime robbery and we want this tanker to be freed.

The government of Gibraltar said on Friday that they had received permission from their supreme court to hold the tanker for fourteen days.

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander threatened on Friday to seize a British ship in retaliation.

Read: UK-flagged tanker stopped in Gulf reported ‘safe and well’