Oil Tanker Seized by UK Not Bound for Syria: Iran

A detachment of 30 UK marines boarding the Iranian super tanker Grace 1 in the early hours after its seizure on July 4, 2019. / Photo by UK Ministry of Defence

Iran says the supertanker carrying its oil sailing in international waters in the Strait of Gibraltar 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.

“No law allows the UK government to do such a thing,” Araqchi said, protesting the UK Navy for seizing the oil tanker.

He said the country will legally pursue the issue and test any path in order to secure its interests, but it is hopeful that the problem is resolved through diplomatic channels.

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.

Later in the day, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Britain’s ambassador to the country to express its strong protest at the move.

Naqavi Hosseini, a spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said on Saturday that the UK’s move was a “crime against humanity” and an encroachment into the Iranian nation’s assets.

“It is the right of our diplomatic apparatus to take necessary measures at international bodies in reaction to the UK move,” he noted.

“While the UK government has failed to implement its commitments under the Iran nuclear deal, it looks for legal excuses to seize a vessel” belonging to Iran, he added.

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