Russia says UK’s seizure of Iranian oil shipment ‘plotted beforehand’

TEHRAN, Jul. 06 (MNA) – Russia condemned the detention of an oil tanker carrying Iranian oil by Gibraltar and UK, saying that ‘the operation had been plotted beforehand and involved corresponding services and agencies of several countries’.

"We condemn the seizure of a super tanker flying the Panamanian flag committed on July by the Gibraltar authorities who were backed by UK Royal Marines," the ministry said in a Friday statement, Tass reported.

"We consider the detention of the vessel and its cargo as a deliberate step geared to further aggravate the situation around Iran and Syria. Commentaries by UK and US officials that came immediately after this operation only prove these assessments and indicate that this operation had been plotted beforehand and involved corresponding services and agencies of several countries."

The ministry stressed that this operation runs counter to the commitments declared by the European Union’s leading nations, including the United Kingdom, to spare no effort to keep the Iran nuclear deal in place. "Iranian representatives have been repeatedly saying at various level in the recent days that their country has received no economic return from the nuclear deal because its European signatories were failing to agree efficient formats of operation after the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and imposed sanctions on all those who were ready to continue to act in accordance with international law and continue lawful economic cooperation with Iran," the ministry noted.

According to the Russian foreign ministry, the United Kingdom is making no secret of its intention to use the incident with the tanker to augment pressure on the "Bashar Assad regime." "Once again, we see a sharp contradiction between British officials’ declarations in support of settling the Syrian conflict on the basis of generally recognized norms of international law, including United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, and their practical actions," the ministry stressed.

The Russian foreign ministry warned that this incident may have serious impacts and worsen the situation. "Responsibility for that will rest entirely on those who never stop attempts to exert maximum illegitimate pressure on Tehran and Damascus in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2231 and 2254," it said.

The Panama-registered Grace 1 supertanker was detained by Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion that it was carrying crude oil to Syria in violation of the sanctions. Royal Marines took part in the operation. According to Gibraltar authorities, the 28 crewmembers, citizens of India, Pakistan and Ukraine, are staying aboard the tanker, along with local police and customs officers boarding the vessel for a period of a probe.

Iranian Foreign Ministry condemned the measure as ‘maritime piracy’ and summoned the UK envoy in response. On Friday, Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei called for the reciprocal seizure of a British oil tanker in case London refuses to release the vessel.

MNA/TASS

News Code 147238

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