Tanker carrying Iranian oil not headed to Syria: Deputy FM

TEHRAN, Jul. 07 (MNA) – Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said that the supertanker illegally seized by the British forces on Thursday was not headed to Syria.

Making the remarks in a Sunday press conference in Tehran to he said that this supertanker with a two-million-barrel capacity was carrying Iranian oil and due to its huge capacity, it could not travel through the Suez Canal; so it chose the Strait of Gibraltar route.

“Despite claims of the British government, the target and destination of this tanker was not Syria. The port that they have named in Syria essentially does not have the capacity for such a supertanker. The target was somewhere else. It was passing through international waters through the Strait of Gibraltar and there is no law that allows Britain to stop this tanker. In our view, the stopping of this ship was maritime robbery and we want this tanker to be freed.”

Iran is continuously in contact with the British government, he said, adding that UK Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran Rob Macaire came to the Foreign Ministry on Saturday in addition to his summoning on Thursday.

“We have also invited Spain’s ambassador and there are consultations underway with Spain’s government,” he highlighted, adding that Iran is also following the legal procedures.

“We will try all paths to protect our interests,” Araghchi said, hoping that the issue will be solved with current diplomatic and legal efforts.

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.

MAH/IRN83385284

News Code 147321

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