UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says the release of an Iranian supertanker that his country has captured near Gibraltar would be conditional on a guarantee that the vessel will not go to Syria.
In a post on his Twitter account on Saturday, Hunt said he has had a “constructive” telephone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“I reassured him our concern was destination not origin of the oil on Grace One &that UK would facilitate release if we received guarantees that it would not be going to Syria, following due process in Gib (Gibraltarian) courts,” the British diplomat noted.
“(I) Was told by FM Zarif that Iran wants to resolve issue and is not seeking to escalate,” Hunt added.
The UK official also noted that he has spoken with Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo “who is doing an excellent job co-ordinating issue and shares UK perspective on the way forward.”
In the meantime, Iran’s Ambassador to London Hamid Baeidinejad has warned the UK against the consequences of its failure to release the Iranian oil tanker it has seized illegally.
“Having miscalculated in its unlawful seizure of tanker, UK should not repeat its miscalculation. Ship did NOT violate any law or norm – but UK, through its illegal piracy, most certainly has. Failure to release the tanker and its cargo will NOT be left unanswered,” the Iranian envoy underlined.
Iranian supertanker Grace 1 was boarded and impounded by Gibraltar police and customs agencies, aided by a detachment of British Royal Marines, on July 4 at the US request in the Strait of Gibraltar.
Iran maintains that the oil tanker was not bound for Syria, and the UK was not allowed to seize the vessel, as the EU members cannot impose extraterritorial sanctions on the other countries.