Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned the United Kingdom about the consequences of its recent move to seize an Iranian supertanker in Gibraltar.
Addressing a weekly cabinet session on Wednesday, Rouhani described the UK’s seizure of the Iranian vessel as a “very cheap and wrong” move which is detrimental for London.
“I tell the Britons that you are the initiators of insecurity and will learn and understand the consequences later,” he warned, saying that the UK will be responsible for all that ensues.
He also stressed that shipping routes in the world must enjoy full security.
“We all should strive to make shipping safe across the world. We should help ensure the safety of energy transport routes across the world,” he said.
“You’re now so pathetic that when your oil tanker wants to move in the region (Persian Gulf) you have to escort it with your warships, out of fear. Are you sick? Let shipping remain safe; let the world be safe,” he added.
Rouhani also referred to Gibraltar as a Spanish territory occupied by British forces.
“A usurper has seized our oil tanker. It [Gibraltar] is a Spanish territory. If Spain had seized the tanker, we’d say they’ve made such a move in their own territory. But the UK has occupied Gibraltar – which belongs to Spain,” Rouhani noted.
“he occupying country is illegally present there. It’s wrong, and all the people of Spain are angry with the UK’s occupation,” he added.
Iranian supertanker Grace 1 was boarded and impounded by Gibraltar police and customs agencies, aided by a detachment of British Royal Marines, on Thursday at the US request in the Strait of Gibraltar.
While the UK claims it has seized the tanker on the pretext that it was carrying oil to Syria in breach of the EU sanctions against the Arab country, Iran says it was not bound for Syria, and the UK was not allowed to seize it.
“The oil tanker (seized in Gibraltar) was not bound for Syria. The Syrian port they mention basically is not suitable for such type of tanker to dock,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi said Sunday.
“The oil tanker carrying Iran’s oil was a supertanker with 2 million barrels of oil, and with such a huge capacity it could not cross the Suez Canal,” Araqchi added, speaking to reporters in a press conference.