Iran’s Foreign Ministry has summoned the British ambassador to Tehran after a tanker carrying Iranian oil was seized in Gibraltar.
The ministry’s spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Thursday Iran expressed its strong protest to the top British diplomat over the incident.
Mousavi also slammed the seizure of the vessel as an illegal and destructive measure.
“This is a destructive move done at the request of the US government,” said the spokesman in an interview with the state TV.
“This amounts to the imposition of a kind of extraterritorial sanction and will fuel tensions in the region,” said the spokesman.
Robert Macaire was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Thursday evening.
As the ambassador appeared at the Foreign Ministry, Director of the Third Department of Western Europe described the UK move as unacceptable, and called for the immediate release of the oil tanker, given that it has been seized at the request of the US based on the information currently available.
Pointing to the fact that the oil tanker was sailing in the international waters, the Iranian diplomat described the UK Navy’s measure as being tantamount to maritime piracy, and stressed that Britain has no right to impose its own unilateral sanctions or those of the European Union in an extraterritorial manner against the other countries.
This is the very bullying policy of the US, about which the European countries have been always protesting, he added.
In the meeting, the UK ambassador was provided with the documentation about the oil tanker and its cargo indicating the ship’s completely legal movement.
It was also emphasized that the Islamic Republic of Iran will be employing all its political and legal capacities to secure the release of the vessel and uphold its rights.
The UK ambassador said he will immediately convey the protest to London, stressing that the UK does not follow the unilateral US sanctions against Iran.
The Grace-one tanker was halted early on Thursday by Gibraltar police and customs agencies, aided by a detachment of British Royal Marines.
The Gibraltar government claims the vessel was carrying crude oil to a refinery in Syria. The UK, which regards Gibraltar as part of its territory, said the shipment was a breach of European Union sanctions against Syria. However, Spain, which challenges the British ownership of Gibraltar, said the action was prompted by a US request to Britain and appeared to have taken place in Spanish waters.