Iran has demanded that Britain immediately release an oil tanker it detained in Gibraltar. British authorities said they suspected the tanker was carrying oil to Syria, in violation of sanctions. Iran accused Britain of acting at the bidding of the United States.

Iran summoned Britain’s ambassador, to hear a formal protest. In that meeting, a senior Iranian foreign ministry official called Britain’s move “unacceptable”, and called for the “immediate release of the oil tanker, given that it has been seized at the request of the US, based on the information currently available”, said a foreign ministry statement.

The 330-metre Grace 1 tanker was stopped early Thursday by police and customs agencies in the waters off of Gibraltar, a small overseas British territory on the southern tip of Spain.

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told reporters the vessel was detained at the request of the United States.

The move was welcomed by US National Security Advisor John Bolton, who tweeted: “Excellent news: UK has detained the supertanker Grace I laden with Iranian oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions.” Bolton tweeted.

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