Top Iranian Officials Threaten to Capture British Oil Tanker in Retaliation for Seizure of Iranian Tanker by British Marines in Gibraltar

  • On Friday, two top Iranian officials said that “Iran should seize a British oil tanker if an Iranian tanker detained off Gibraltar earlier this week is not released immediately.”
  • On Thursday, Gibraltar officials and the British Royal Marines captured Iran’s super-tanker Grace 1 for attempting to deliver oil to Syria, which violated EU sanctions.
  • Per reports, “a team of about 30 marines, from 42 Commando, were flown from the U.K. to Gibraltar to help detain Grace 1 and its cargo.”
  • The move was met with fury by Iran, and after the capture, Iran complained to the British ambassador in Tehran that the move was a “form of piracy.”
  • Mohsen Rezaee, the Revolutionary Guards Major General and secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, tweeted: “If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities duty to seize a British oil tanker.”
  • Rezaee continued: “Islamic Iran in its 40-year history has never initiated hostilities in any battles but has also never hesitated in responding to bullies.”
  • Senior Iranian lawmaker Mostafa Kavakebian said the capture of Grace 1 “was proof the U.K. lacks honor and takes orders from the U.S.” and tweeted that “the seizure was a form of piracy and illegal hostility towards Iran.”
  • Gibraltar’s attorney general said the tanker can be held for an additional 14 days, but “Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned the initial seizure of the vessel as illegal and accused the U.K. of acting at the behest of the United States.”
  • On Thursday, Spain’s Acting Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said the nation “was studying the circumstances of the action, but said it followed a demand from the U.S. to the U.K.” Spain disputes British ownership of Gibraltar.
  • This latest incident ramps up tensions between the U.S. and Iran, which have been at odds since President Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and imposed sanctions on the nation.
  • In the past, Rezaee has “also suggested taking American servicemen hostage in the Persian Gulf and demanding money for their release.”
  • National Security Advisor John Bolton called the tanker’s capture “excellent news” and said that “the U.S. and its allies would continue to prevent regimes in Tehran and Damascus from profiting off this illicit trade.”

Reference Links

  • BBC: Iranian official threatens to seize British oil tanker READ
  • The Guardian: Ex-military chief urges Iran to seize UK ship in Gibraltar tit-for-tat READ
  • Independent: Iran threatens to seize British oil tanker unless ship taken by Royal Marines off Gibraltar released READ
  • Radio Farda: Top Official Says Iran Should Seize UK Oil Tankers If Iranian Vessel Not Released READ

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