Sources in Iran Deny Reports of Seizing UK Oil Tanker

Informed sources in Iran have dismissed the fabricated news of the seizure of a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, IRIB News Agency reported.

Earlier in the day, certain journalists and observers tracked the movement of the UK-flagged supertanker ‘Pacific Voyager’ in the Persian Gulf, and reported that it has “suspiciously” come to a halt in the middle of the Persian Gulf.

The reports were also dismissed by  a United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) official, who told Reuters the oil tanker was “safe and well”.

The Pacific Voyager oil tanker stopped as part of a routine procedure to adjust its arrival time at its next port of call and has since continued on its way, the official said.

The UKMTO, which coordinates shipping in the Persian Gulf, had been in direct contact with the vessel, the official said.

The reports came after a senior Iranian official called for the seizure of a British oil tanker in case London refuses to release the Iranian vessel it has illegally detained in Gibraltar.

Major General Mohsen Rezaei, a top IRGC general and the secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, tweeted on Friday that “if Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities’ duty to make a reciprocal move and seize a British oil tanker.”

The senior official said the Islamic Republic has never initiated a tension in its 40-year history, but it will never hesitate to respond to bullies.

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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