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Evil Britain commits piracy and steals our ship, there will be a response at an appropriate time, warns Khamenei

File Photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Tehran Jul 16, 2019, 05.56 PM (IST)

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Tuesday Iran would respond to Britain's "piracy" over the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar.

Iran has called on Britain to immediately release the oil tanker, which was seized by British Royal Marines on suspicion it was breaking European sanctions by taking oil to Syria.

They (the European signatories of the JCPOA) make out of place demands. Then evil Britain, and really their evilness is very clear, commits piracy and steals our ship. It is an act of piracy. But as usual they commit the crime and then try to give their crime a legal appearance and present a reason for what they have done," Iran's supreme leader said.

"It is a simple case: it is piracy. Of course, the Islamic republic will not leave such evil deeds unanswered. There will be a response at the appropriate time and place," Khamenei added.  

British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt told his Iranian counterpart over the weekend that Britain would facilitate the release of the detained Grace 1 oil tanker if Tehran gave guarantees it would not go to Syria.

Tehran denies the tanker was taking oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

Gibraltar police had said earlier on Friday that they had arrested the two second mates from the tanker, a day after the vessel's captain and chief officer were arrested.

In a statement, the police said all four crew members were granted bail with conditions. It did not elaborate, but said the investigation was ongoing and that the Grace 1 continues to be detained.

The British territory's chief minister Gibraltar took the decision to seize an Iranian tanker last week solely because the ship was in breach of European Union sanctions and not on the request of any other country.

The Grace 1 was seized by British Royal Marines off the coast of Gibraltar on suspicion of violating sanctions against Syria.
 

Story highlights

British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt told his Iranian counterpart over the weekend that Britain would facilitate the release of the detained Grace 1 oil tanker if Tehran gave guarantees it would not go to Syria.