According to an Iranian official, a British oil tanker will be seized if an Iranian ship that’s in custody is not released.
The super-tanker Grace 1 was seized on Thursday by officials in Gibraltar with the help of the British Royal Marines because it was suspected of transporting oil from Iran to Syria at a moment when the sanctions of the EU are still in power.
According to a court decision in Gibraltar, the ship can still be kept in custody for more than two weeks if there’s a valid reason for that. Iranian officials complained in front of the British ambassador in Iran saying that the action was a form of piracy.
Mohsen Rezaei, who is a member of a council that advises the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei, said that Iran will respond to bullies without hesitation.
“If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities’ duty to seize a British oil tanker,’’ Rezaei wrote in a tweet.
A team of around 30 marines, from 42 Commando, were flown from the United Kingdom to Gibraltar to help detain Grace 1 and its cargo. Gibraltar officials said that there was a reason to believe the ship was carrying Iranian crude oil to the Baniyas Refinery in the Syrian Mediterranean port town of Tartous. The territory was initially able to detain the ship for 72 hours, but Gibraltar’s Supreme Court granted a 14-day extension on Friday, according to BBC News.
Iran and Britain immediately entered in an exchange of words as the Iranian Foreign Ministry condemned the capture of the ship as illegal and said that the United Kingdom was acting that way because of the interests of the United States, while the UK said that the accusations of piracy are nonsense.