Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that Iran is calling on Britain to release its oil tanker immediately.
“This is a dangerous game and has consequences … the legal pretexts for the capture are not valid … the release of the tanker is in all countries’ interest … Foreign powers should leave the region because Iran and other regional countries are capable of securing the regional security,” Mousavi said.
On July 4, the UK Marines and Gibraltar authorities seized the supertanker for allegedly transporting oil to Syria. According to Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo, such measures were taken because of “information that gave the Gibraltar government reasonable grounds to assume that Grace 1 was acting in defiance of EU sanctions against Syria.”
Tehran denies the claims that the oil was destined for Syria and slammed the seizure of the ship. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Monday that the detention of the Iranian tanker Grace 1 amounts to “piracy” and “sets a dangerous precedent”.
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory on the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, adjacent to Spain, with a population of about 32,000. The territory is self-governing in all matters – including taxation – except foreign policy and defence, which are under the UK government’s jurisdiction.