Britain And Iran Spar Over Seized Oil Tanker, Bringing US Into The Mix

Britain seized an Iranian oil tanker suspected of breaching European Union sanctions by carrying oil to Syria, and Iran said the seizure was a “form of piracy.”

British Royal Marines helped to seize the Grace 1 Thursday, alleging they had indications the tanker was carrying crude oil from Iran to Syria, BBC reported. Iran called for the British ambassador in Tehran and stated Iran would not hesitate to respond to bullies.

Mohsen Rezaei, an Iranian council member that advises Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, tweeted Friday that Iran would seize a British oil tanker in retribution if Iran’s tanker wasn’t released.

Other Iranians expressed outrage of the seizure, bringing the U.S. into discussion.

“The move indicated that the U.K. follows the hostile policies of the U.S., which is unacceptable for the Iranian nation and government,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said according to BBC.

The seizure occurred as tensions have continued to escalate between the U.S. and Iran. Most recently, an Iranian official threatened to unseat President Donald Trump on Wednesday if he didn’t restrain America’s response to Iranian hostility. (RELATED: Trump Approved Cyberattacks Against Iran After He Backed Off A Military Assault)

John Bolton, the White House national security adviser, said the seizure was “excellent news.” Bolton also said the U.S. and its allies would keep their pressure on illegal trade.

Excellent news: UK has detained the supertanker Grace I laden with Iranian oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions. America & our allies will continue to prevent regimes in Tehran & Damascus from profiting off this illicit trade.

— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) July 4, 2019

The U.K. said that the piracy claims were “nonsense,” according to BBC. Britain suggested the Gibraltar government led the action. Gibraltar is a British overseas territory in Spain.

The seizure came after “a demand from the U.S. to the U.K.,” Spain’s Acting Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said Thursday, BBC reported.

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran have grown, the same has happened between the U.K. and Iran. The U.K. said Iran was “almost certainly” responsible for two oil tankers being attacked in the Gulf of Oman in June. The U.S. has also blamed Iran for these attacks, but Iran has denied the allegations.

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