TEHRAN Iranian Ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad rejected what some British media suggest about Tehran and London swapping seized tankers, reiterating that his country will not succumb to pressures with UK's illegal move in the Strait of Gibraltar to condone the violation of law in the Strait of Hormuz.
Impossible to advance a quid pro quo or barter exchange of detained UK and Iranian ships as some British media suggest, Hamid Baedinejad tweeted on Monday.
UK has illegally detained the ship carrying Iranian oil while the British ship is detained for violating some key safety/security regulations in Hormuz Strait, he added.
On July 4, British naval forces in the Strait of Gibraltar off Spain seized the supertanker Grace 1 on the accusation that it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of the European Union's unilateral sanctions on the Arab country. Iran has denied that the vessel was heading for Syria, and Spain later informed that London had ordered the confiscation at the request of the United States, which is trying to trouble Iran's international oil sales.
Later in the month, Iran seized an oil tanker sailing under the British ensign in the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf for failing to respect international maritime rules. The tanker had failed to respond to pertinent authorities after an accident involving an Iranian fishing boat and changed route instead.
The UK outlets had made the suggestion for the exchange, misinterpreting remarks made earlier by the head of Iran's Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Kamal Kharrazi.
Kharrazi had said, We hope that the Britons would release the Iranian tanker, and also that taking place of due process in Iran would lead to release of the British tanker too.
On Saturday, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said that his country's seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz was totally legal unlike Britain's piracy in the Strait of Gibraltar.
Unlike Britain's piracy in the Strait of Gibraltar, where it illegally confiscated an Iranian oil tanker, Iran's measure [in the Persian Gulf] has been completely legal and in line with maritime regulations and security, Shamkhani said in a meeting with visiting Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi in Tehran.
We believe that all countries need to respect international maritime law in order to help maintain security, and we make no exceptions for any country in this regard, he added.
On Wednesday, Iran in a letter to the UN Security Council defended the country's seizure of the British oil tanker, describing it as necessary to protect safety of the Strait of Hormuz.
Tehran's letter to the United Nations Security Council said that "Stena Impero" collided with a small fishing boat on July 19, and badly injured its crew, some of whom remain in critical condition.
Afterwards, instead of responding to distress calls from the boat and radio communications from Iranian authorities, the British tanker turned off its transponder and "dangerously" changed course in the direction of incoming ships, the letter read.
That is when, according to the letter, Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) intervened and took the ship and its crew into custody.
Tehran asserted in the letter that the seizure, which took place in accordance with international regulations, was necessary for protecting the safety and the order of maritime navigation at the Strait of Hormuz strategic choke point.
According to the letter, Iranian judicial authorities had ordered local officials to investigate the tanker's violations, including its environmental damage as well as the extent of the damage it has done to the fishing boat and its crew.
The letter also rejected claims by the UK government in a recent letter to the UNSC, where it had claimed the IRGC forces acted illegally by approaching the Stena Impero in "Omani territorial waters".
Iran's permanent mission at the UN said in its letter that everything it did was aimed at upholding international law and ensuring secure navigation in the Persian Gulf.
Source: Fars News Agency