Press TV – July 5, 2019
Russia has condemned Britain for its seizure of an Iran-operated supertanker off the coast of Gibraltar, calling the provocative move a deliberate step geared to further deteriorate the situation in the Middle East.
“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 Russian foreign ministry said in a Friday statement, carried by TASS news agency.
On early Thursday morning, British Royal Marines in Gibraltar stormed the 300,000-tonne Grace 1 and detained it, accusing it of carrying oil to Syria in possible violation of the European Union’s sanctions on the war-torn Arab country.
“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 Russian foreign ministry further said.
According to Gibraltar authorities, the 28 crewmembers, who are nationals of India, Pakistan and Ukraine, are currently staying aboard the tanker, along with local police and customs officers boarding the vessel for a period of a probe.
Iran has condemned the move as “maritime piracy” and summoned Britain’s ambassador in protest. It has vowed to employ all its political and legal capacities to secure the release of the vessel and uphold its rights.
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.
Tanker detained by Gibraltar on U.S. request to Britain, Spain says
Reuters – July 4, 2019
Gibraltar detained the supertanker Grace 1 after a request by the United States to Britain, acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Thursday.
Spain was looking into the seizure of the ship, suspected of carrying crude oil to Syria, and how it may affect Spanish sovereignty as it appears to have happened in Spanish waters, Borrell said.
Spain does not recognize the waters around Gibraltar as British.