Tuesday, September 17, 2019
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Tehran Warns London about Consequences of Piracy against Iranian Tankers

TEHRAN Iranian President Hassan Rouhani harshly criticized the British government for seizing an Iranian oil tanker in the strait of Gibraltar, warning that London will face serious consequences for its act of piracy against Tehran.

I warn the UK that you are the initiator of insecurity in seas and you will later understand its repercussions, Rouhani said in a Wednesday cabinet session.

On Thursday morning, British Royal Marines in Gibraltar stormed an Iran-operated supertanker off the coast of Gibraltar, seizing the 300,000-tonne Grace 1 based on the accusation that it was carrying oil to Syria in possible violation of the European Union's sanctions on the war-torn Arab country.

The enemy is looking for creating insecurity in the region so it violated Iran's airspace and of course, faced a firm response. And on the other hand, they seized Iranian oil tanker by a proxy which was a very wrong action, Rouhani underlined.

British forces seized this vessel unjustly in Giblartar, he said adding that the region is Spain's territory and the UK is occupying there.

London claims that the tanker had been carrying Iranian oil to Syria, which is under European Union's sanctions but Iran says first, the tanker was not headed to Syria, and second, Iran is not an EU member and also not subject to any European oil embargo.

According to Gibraltar authorities, the 28 crewmembers, who are nationals of India, Pakistan and Ukraine, are currently staying aboard the tanker, along with local police and customs officers boarding the vessel for a period of a probe.

Iran has condemned the move as maritime piracy and summoned Britain's ambassador in protest. It has vowed to employ all its political and legal capacities to secure the release of the vessel and uphold its rights.

Spain's acting Foreign Minister Josep Borrell stated on Friday that Madrid was planning to lodge a formal complaint against the UK and was studying the circumstances and looking at how the incident is affecting its sovereignty.

Spain, which challenges the British ownership of Gibraltar, has announced the seizure was prompted by a US request to Britain and appeared to have taken place in Spanish waters.

However, the British-claimed overseas territory rejected the claim, saying that Gibraltar had acted independently.

Gibraltar's position comes as a British foreign office spokesman had welcomed the move on Thursday, describing it as a firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities, acting to enforce the EU Syria Sanctions regime.

The seizure of the Panama-registered Grace 1 comes as the US has pledged to cut Iran's oil exports to zero as part of the sanctions that it has reinstated after leaving a landmark multilateral 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in May last year, and many analysts take London's move as an indicator that the UK is not committed to the nuclear agreement and is much on the side of Washington in Trump anti-Iran maximum pressure campaign.

Source: Fars News Agency