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Iran asks UK to return seized oil tanker

TEHRAN: Iran has asked the United Kingdom to return the oil tanker seized by it in Gibraltar.

Iran Foreign Minister also condemned the “illegal” seizure of an oil tanker by the United Kingdom.

A senior Iranian foreign ministry official described the UK move as unacceptable” in a meeting with the British ambassador, who had been summoned to hear a formal protest, the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The official also called for the immediate release of the oil tanker, given that it has been seized at the request of the US, based on the information currently available.

Mohsen Rezai, a senior commander in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, also said in a Twitter post that if the vessel was not released immediately, it was Tehran’s “duty” to act alike and seize a British oil tanker.

British Royal Marines, police and customs agents on Thursday stopped and seized the Grace 1 vessel on suspicion it carried Iranian crude oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

On Friday, the tanker’s crew were being interviewed as witnesses in an effort to establish the nature of the cargo and its ultimate destination, a spokesman for the British territory said.

The spokesman said the 28-member crew, who have remained on board the supertanker, were mainly Indians with some Pakistanis and Ukrainians.

John Bolton, White House national security adviser, applauded the interception of the supertanker.

“Excellent news: UK has detained the supertanker Grace I laden with Iranian oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions,” Bolton said on Twitter.