Iran has dismissed as “fabricated” reports of the seizure of a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf.
BBC Persian had reported that a British-flagged supertanker called ‘Pacific Voyager’ had come to a halt in the Persian Gulf.
But Iran’s IRIB news agency quoted unnamed sources that regional sources did not confirm these fabricated reports.
Speculation was rife this morning when British tanker Pacific Voyager came to a stop near Iran.
It was later confirmed by United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations officials that the vessel had stopped as part of "normal procedure", is "safe and well" and was merely adjusting her ETA into Saudi Arabia.
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.
A top court in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar has ruled that an Iranian supertanker illegally seized in the Strait of Gibraltar can be detained for up to 14 more days.
“The Supreme Court has issued today’s order on the basis that there are reasonable grounds to consider that the detention of the Grace 1 is required for the purposes of compliance with the European Union (EU) Regulation 36/2012 on sanctions on Syria,” Gibraltar’s government said in a statement on Friday.
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.
Russia also 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.