Iran summons UK ambassador in tanker seizure row – BBC Information

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Picture copyright
Reuters

Picture caption

The oil tanker is suspected of carrying crude oil to Syria

Iran has summoned the British ambassador in Tehran to complain about what it says was the unlawful seizure of an Iranian oil tanker.

British Royal Marines helped the authorities in Gibraltar seize the ship due to proof it was heading to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.

Spain’s performing overseas minister mentioned the seizure of the ship – Grace 1 – was on the US’s request.

An Iranian overseas ministry spokesman referred to as the actions a “type of piracy”.

Gibraltar port and legislation enforcement businesses detained the tremendous tanker and its cargo on Thursday morning with the assistance of the marines.

The BBC has been advised a staff of about 30 marines, from 42 Commando, had been flown from the UK to Gibraltar to assist, on the request of the Gibraltar authorities.

Picture copyright
Ministry of Defence

Picture caption

Royal Marines disembarking Grace 1

The primary marines to board the Panama-flagged ship descended by rope from a helicopter, as others approached in pace boats. No pictures had been fired.

A defence supply described it as a “comparatively benign operation” with out main incident.

Nevertheless, Iran’s overseas ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was later quoted as saying the UK’s ambassador in Tehran, Robert Macaire, had been summoned over the “unlawful seizure” of the tanker.

In a quick interview for Iranian TV’s Channel Two, Mr Mousavi mentioned the seizure was “a type of piracy” and didn’t have any authorized and worldwide foundation. He referred to as for the tanker to be instantly launched to proceed its journey.

He added that “the transfer indicated that the UK follows the hostile insurance policies of the US, which is unacceptable for the Iranian nation and authorities”.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale mentioned whereas Britain has been eager to counsel it was an operation led by the Gibraltar authorities, it seems the intelligence got here from the US.

Spain’s performing overseas minister Josep Borrell mentioned Spain was learning the circumstances of the motion however mentioned it adopted “a requirement from the US to the UK”. Spain disputes British possession of Gibraltar.

Evaluation: Britain wouldn’t have acted to implement US measures

By James Robbins, BBC diplomatic correspondent

It is clear that this seizure was to implement EU sanctions towards Syria, not US sanctions towards Iran.

Nevertheless it appears as if each the US and the UK had been monitoring the actions of Grace 1 all through its curious voyage from the Gulf to the Mediterranean.

Curious as a result of such a useful cargo of oil would usually be taken by way of the Suez Canal, even when meaning utilizing a couple of vessel and transhipping the oil as a result of not all super-tankers can squeeze by way of. It is a huge shortcut.

As an alternative, on this occasion the grasp took his vessel and controversial cargo the very lengthy route across the southern tip of Africa – the Cape. Was that a smokescreen to hide its obvious vacation spot – the Mediterranean coast of Syria?

The Individuals had been acutely as a result of they’re decided to forestall Iran making the most of oil gross sales which breach US sanctions.

Britain, against this, wouldn’t have acted to implement US measures.

However when the super-tanker, all 330 metres of it, entered EU waters, particularly Gibraltar waters, the British authorities judged they’d no alternative however to implement EU sanctions towards Syria which the UK pushed for and strongly helps.

Brussels was not concerned within the seizure choice. It isn’t a matter for EU establishments to implement customs legislation. That may be a duty of member states.

Nevertheless, the Iranian cost that Britain was doing the Individuals bidding could also be exhausting to shake off.

That issues as a result of it fuels an Iranian conviction that Europe solely pays lip service to its persevering with dedication to the hard-won nuclear deal – the deal which Donald Trump repudiated and doesn’t need to survive.

International Secretary Jeremy Hunt mentioned the swift motion by the authorities in Gibraltar and the Royal Marines would deny useful assets to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s “murderous regime”.

Gibraltar mentioned there was motive to imagine the ship was carrying Iranian crude oil to the Baniyas Refinery within the Syrian Mediterranean port city of Tartous.

The refinery is a subsidiary of the Common Company for Refining and Distribution of Petroleum Merchandise, a piece of the Syrian ministry of petroleum.

The EU says the ability due to this fact gives monetary assist to the Syrian authorities, which is topic to sanctions due to its repression of civilians because the begin of the rebellion towards President Assad in 2011.

The refinery has been topic to EU sanctions since 2014.

US-Iran stress

This newest row comes at a time of escalating tensions between the US and Iran.

The Trump administration – which has pulled out of a global settlement on Tehran’s nuclear programme – has bolstered punishing sanctions towards Iran. Its European allies haven’t adopted swimsuit.

Additionally final month, the US accused Iran of attacking two oil tankers with mines simply outdoors the Strait of Hormuz – an accusation denied by Iran.

Days later, an unmanned US drone was shot down by Iranian forces within the Gulf.

Iran mentioned it had violated Iranian airspace and would ship a “clear message to America”. The US insisted the drone had been over worldwide waters. President Donald Trump tweeted: “Iran made a really huge mistake!”

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