Tehran, Aug 16 Iran’s top diplomat and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the United States’ unsuccessful attempt to prevent Gibraltar’s authorities from releasing a seized Iranian oil tanker was an act of attempted piracy.
“Having failed to accomplish its objectives through its #EconomicTerrorism – including depriving cancer patients of medicine – the US attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter on Thursday
“This piracy attempt is indicative of (the US government’s) contempt for the law,” he added.
Grace 1 was seized on July 4 by Gibraltar authorities on suspicion was transporting crude oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions against that country’s government.
It was released on Thursday by order of a court in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain, after Iran provided assurances that the tanker’s cargo would not be taken to Syria.
In that regard, Iran’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Hamid Baeidinejad, said the US tried up to the last minute to prevent the release of the tanker but ended up suffering a “humiliating defeat.”
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on July 19 captured the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz for allegedly violating international maritime rules, an accusation that London and the ship’s owner have denied.The Stena Impero was en route from the United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia with a 23-person crew when it was intercepted.
The tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated after US President Trump in May 2018 unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 multilateral pact under which Tehran accepted limits on its nuclear power program in return for relief from economic sanctions.
Thereafter, the tensions escalated in the Persian Gulf after attacks on oil tankers that Washington has blamed on Iran and the June 19 shoot-down of a US surveillance drone that Tehran says violated its airspace, though the Pentagon said the aircraft was flying over international waters.