Iran summons UK ambassador in tanker seizure row

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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 is 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 stated the seizure of the ship – Grace 1 – was on the US’s request.

An Iranian overseas ministry spokesman stated detaining its tanker was unlawful.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus stated a major worldwide row may very well be creating.

Picture copyright
Ministry of Defence

Picture caption

Royal Marines disembarking Grace 1

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

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

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 on Iranian state TV as saying the UK’s ambassador in Tehran, Robert Macaire, had been summoned over the “unlawful seizure” of the tanker.

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 in opposition to Syria, not US sanctions in opposition to Iran.

However it seems to be 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 precious cargo of oil would usually be taken by way of the Suez Canal, even when which means utilizing a couple of vessel and transhipping the oil as a result of not all super-tankers can squeeze by. It is a large shortcut.

As a substitute, 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 People had been acutely as a result of they’re decided to stop Iran benefiting from 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 selection however to implement EU sanctions in opposition to Syria which the UK pushed for and strongly help.

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

Nevertheless, the Iranian cost that Britain was doing the People 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.

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

Gibraltar stated there was motive to consider 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 Normal 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 offers monetary help to the Syrian authorities, which is topic to sanctions due to its repression of civilians for the reason that begin of the rebellion in opposition to President Assad in 2011.

The refinery has been topic to EU sanctions since 2014.

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