Senior MP calls on UK to free ‘illegally-seized’ Iranian tanker in Gibraltar

TEHRAN, Jul. 21 (MNA) – A senior reformist lawmaker asked the UK to immediately free the Iranian oil tanker which was illegally seized in Gibraltar on July 4.

“I, as the head of Iran-England parliamentary friendship group, tell the UK foreign secretary that you illegally seized the Iranian vessel upon US order. But we seized the English vessel due to its failure to abide by regulations,” said Mostafa Kavakebian, a member of the Iranian Parliament's National Security Committee, on Sunday at the Parliament’s open session.

“Iranians ship should be released as soon as possible so that we would not have to impose tolls on UK and US ships crossing the Strait of Hormuz,” he added.

He also appreciated both diplomatic efforts of Iranian Foreign Ministry to free the oil tanker ‘Grace 1’ and also the IRGC for impounding the British tanker ‘Stena Impero’.

IRGC confiscated British-flagged oil tanker ‘Stena Impero’ on Friday over violation of international maritime rules.

The IRGC spokesman, Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif said on Saturday that the British oil tanker was being escorted by the British Royal Navy and it was seized after ignoring international maritime regulations by sailing into the Strait of Hormuz in the wrong direction, increasing the risk of collision with other vessels.

British tanker was confiscated by the Revolutionary Guards at the request of the southern province of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Organization, he said, adding that the tanker had switched off its transponder in violations of international maritime regulations, using the exit lane to enter into the Strait of Hormuz instead of moving towards the entrance of the Persian Gulf, increasing the risk of accident.

This seizure came as British Royal Marines in Gibraltar stormed the Iran-operated 300,000-tonne Grace 1 and detained it on July 4, accusing it of carrying oil to Syria in possible violation of the European Union’s sanctions on the Arab country. Iran condemned the move as “piracy” and summoned Britain’s ambassador in protest over it, highlighting that neither the tanker was headed to Syria, nor Iran is a member an EU member and subject to any European oil embargo.

"Unlike the piracy in the Strait of Gibraltar, our action in the Persian Gulf is to uphold international maritime rules," Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif tweeted on Saturday.

MAH/4672096

News Code 147891

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