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Official Calls Tanker Release by UK Diplomatic Victory for Iran

TEHRAN Iranian President's Chief of Staff Mahmoud Vaezi said on Friday that UK's illegal seizure of an oil tanker of his country drew widespread criticism against London, adding that thanks to efforts by all lawyers and diplomats of his country a diplomatic victory was achieved when Britain released the vessel.

The release of the seized Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 was achieved by the full support of government and all pillars of the Establishment, ranging from lawyers to diplomats of the country, and was a diplomatic triumph for the Islamic Iran, Vaezi said today in a local event in Tehran.

The seizure of the Iranian oil tanker 'Grace 1' was an act of piracy orchestrated by the US administration, and it triggered reactions from all countries," he added.

Both the government and foreign ministry, as well as the whole Establishment, unanimously threw their weights behind Iranian diplomats and lawyers following up the case after the seizure of Grace 1 by the local government of Gibraltar, he said, adding, Eventually, the oil tanker was freed and brought about another diplomatic victory for the Islamic Iran in the international arena.

He expressed his satisfaction with the release of Grace 1 oil tanker and added, release of oil tanker demonstrated that sanctions imposed by EU on Iran would be against them [Europe], not against Iran that wants to navigate in high seas within the framework of international maritime rules and regulations.

Late on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif provided a copy of Iran's embassy note to UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and reiterated that London's detention of a supertanker carrying his country's oil was totally illegal from the very beginning.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a message referred to Iran's embassy note to UKFCO, saying seizure of tanker carrying Iran oil was 100 percent unlawful.

"Our London Embassy note to UKFCO protested the illegal detention of Grace1; Repeated public statements about destination; and made it crystal clear that the European Union's sanctions do not apply to Irana position shared by most Europeans," Zarif tweeted on Thursday.

"Nothing changes the fact: detention was 100% unlawful," he underlined.

Authorities in Gibraltar finally released the Iranian oil tanker on Thursday, ignoring the US request to detain the vessel for a further period.

Following the decision by the Gibraltar court, Iran's Ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad also said the US effort to press the government of Gibraltar to transfer control of the vessel to Washington had failed.

The US, with its desperate, last-minute efforts, intended to prevent the release of the [Grace 1] oil tanker from detention, and was faced with humiliation, Baeidinejad added.

The envoy stated that all preliminary steps have been taken to ensure the tanker's movement toward free waters and the vessel will soon leave the Gibraltar region.

In early July, British marines and Gibraltar police seized the Iranian tanker off the Southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula, claiming that the ship was transporting crude oil to Syria in violation of the EU sanctions placed on Damascus. Washington had applauded the move, hailing it as a sign that Europe is on board with the US unilateral sanctions against Tehran.

Iran had condemned the illegal move of London and described it as tantamount to piracy. Tehran accused the UK of doing Washington's bidding and helping the US attempt to stifle the Islamic Republic's oil exports, rejecting London's claim that the supertanker was carrying crude for Syria.

Source: Fars News Agency