Earlier this month, Gibraltar authorities aided by the UK Royal Marines detained an Iranian tanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria in violation of sanctions.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani condemned the seizure of the Iranian oil tanker, saying on Sunday, 28 July, that the seizure was illegal and would be detrimental for the United Kingdom.
Earlier this day, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson and senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said as quoted by the ISNA news agency that the UK seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar constituted a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“We witnessed the seizure of an oil tanker carrying Iranian oil in the Strait of Gibraltar which in our view is a violation of (the nuclear deal)”, Araqchi said. “And the countries who are part of (the nuclear deal) shouldn’t create obstacles for the export of Iranian oil.”
Already tense relations between Iran, the United Kingdom and the United States have fallen to their lowest point in recent years amid a series of oil tanker seizures.
A Syria-bound Iranian supertanker Grace 1 carrying oil was detained off Gibraltar on 4 July by the territory’s law enforcement, supported by UK marines. The authorities cited a breach of EU sanctions against Damascus as the reason for the seizure. Tehran denied the claims and stressed that Britain has endangered maritime safety by its actions in Gibraltar.
Last week, a court in Gibraltar extended the detention of the Iranian oil tanker by 30 days. The tanker’s four crew members were freed on bail earlier this month after being questioned.
The situation was exacerbated after a British tanker was detained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards on 19 July. Tehran said that the vessel had violated maritime laws, ignored warnings from the military, switched off its positioning device and collided with an Iranian fishing boat.
The Islamic Republic stressed, however, that the Stena Impero’s seizure was not a “retaliation” for the detention of the Grace 1 in Gibraltar.