Royal Marines seize Iranian oil tanker before Iran threatens to capture British vessel in retaliation unless ship taken under US orders is released.
British Royal Marines captured an oil tanker in Gibraltar that was allegedly suspected of carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions on Thursday.
Iran called on the United Kingdom to “immediately release” the Iranian tanker intercepted off the coast of Gibraltar and denounced the detention of the vessel as an act of “piracy”, according to an official statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs published on Friday.
The Iranian request was presented Thursday evening to the United Kingdom’s ambassador in Tehran, which was convened by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the statement that said the tanker was intercepted in “international waters.”
Iranian officials have accused the British Military of lacking any backbone awhen taking US orders for military operations after Royal Marines seized an Iranian oil tanker close to Gibraltar.
Iran’s former Revolutionary Guards commander, Mohsen Rezaee said on Twitter: “Iran’s “duty” was to act alike, and seize a British oil tanker, unless Iran’s ship was released immediately.”.
This is being viewed as an aggressive step that could escalate confrontation between the West and Iran.
Spain’s Acting Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said, on Thursday, Spain – which disputes British ownership of Gibraltar – was studying the circumstances of the action, but said it followed “a demand from the US to the UK”.
Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo stated that the government had sufficient evidence that the tanker was transporting crude oil to the Banyas Refinery in Syria.
On Friday, a senior Iranian lawmaker said the seizure of tanker was proof the UK “lacks honour” and takes orders from the US.
Mostafa Kavakebian, who leads the Iran-UK parliamentary friendship group, tweeted that the seizure was “a form of piracy and illegal hostility towards Iran”.
The Royal Marines abseiled onto the Grace 1 tanker on Thursday and landed a helicopter on the moving vessel in pitch darkness.
Tehran has already summoned the British ambassador to voice “its very strong objection to the illegal and unacceptable seizure” of its ship.
Earlier in the day, Gibraltar official stated that there are no British Royal Marines on board the detained tanker Grace 1, adding that police and customs officials remained on board.
This comes in the same week that a Russian research subbmarine allegedly caught fire killing 14 of its crew.
Numerous military aircraft including Royal Airforce Apaches, Puma’s and Lynx helicopters have been seen over UK cities including Liverpool as seen in the video below.
The website that I use to track military flights has today gone offline.
Eurofighters have also been circling the East Coast for most of the week.
This is a video of one of the helicopters that was flying close to me. There was another that was circling behind the trees for around 45 minutes.
There has also been a NATO AWACS flying over the UK this week.