Published: Fri, July 05, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Tehran summons UK ambassador on Gibraltar detention of ‘Iran tanker’

Tehran summons UK ambassador on Gibraltar detention of ‘Iran tanker’

Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar's Chief Minister, said he authorised the assault because he believed the ship was bound for the Baniyas refinery in Syria.

The group, which has close ties to Iran, says the government's foremost responsibility is to remove what it described as USA occupation forces and their business affiliates, which constitute a "major threat" to Iraqi security.

Mr Picardo said he had "written this morning to the Presidents of the European Commission and Council, setting out the details of the sanctions which we have enforced".

Spain's acting foreign minister said the seizure of the ship "Grace 1" was at the U.S.'s request.

The vessel was believed to be loaded with Iranian crude oil and headed to the Banyas Refinery in Syria, which is a Syrian regime-owned facility and subject to EU's sanctions.

On Thursday, the official IRNA news agency quoted Information Minister Mahmoud Alavi as saying "if the supreme leader permits, negotiations between Iran and the United States will be held".

Iran did this in response to Washington abandoning the nuclear deal a year ago and hitting Iran's crucial oil exports and financial transactions with biting sanctions.

Grace 1 is now anchored off the coast of Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the edge of southern Spain.

European Union sanctions against the Syrian regime took effect in May 2011, shortly after the start of regime leader Bashar al Assad's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators that mushroomed into a protracted war.

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An official with Iran's Foreign Ministry described United Kingdom move to seize Iranian oil tanker as sea piracy, saying that Iran will use its political and legal capacities to release the tanker and regain its rights.

The U.S. -Iranian confrontation has escalated in recent weeks, taking on a military dimension after Washington accused Tehran of attacking tankers in the Gulf and Iran shot down a U.S. drone.

Iran continues to suffer from the effects of crippling sanctions re-introduced in November by the Trump administration after the United States pulled out of the nuclear accord with Iran past year. They now target 270 people and 70 entities.

But Iran is the only nation known to be seeking to supply oil to Syria in defiance both of an European Union embargo as well as strict new USA sanctions targeting oil deliveries to Syria that have contributed to severe fuel shortages in government-held areas of the country.

According to TankerTrackers, the Iranian supertanker Grace 1 departed from Iran in the middle of April for what they believed to be Syria by sailing all around Africa.

Shipping data indicates the ship is a 300,000-tonne, Panamanian-flagged tanker managed by Singapore-based IShips Management Pte Ltd.

Troops from the Royal Marines 42 Commando unit boarded the Iranian tanker Grace 1 using light speedboats today.

Iran said it had violated Iranian airspace and would send a "clear message to America".

According to the data firm Refinitv, the vessel likely carried just over two million barrels of Iranian crude oil. The tanker then reappeared on tracking maps near Iran's port of Bandar Assalyeh, fully loaded.

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