Tehran: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has defended Iran’s recent measure to confiscate a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, saying the move aimed to “uphold international maritime rules.”
In a tweet on Saturday, Zarif emphasized that “it is Iran that guarantees the security of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.”
“Unlike the piracy in the Strait of Gibraltar, our action in the Persian Gulf is to uphold int’l maritime rules,” Zarif tweeted.
Zarif was referring to the UK-flagged Stena Impero tanker, which was impounded by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on Friday when it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz en route to Saudi Arabia “for failing to respect international maritime rules.”
On Saturday, the British Foreign Office summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires in London for an urgent meeting following the seizure of the tanker. London also warned UK ships to avoid the Strait of Hormuz.
Meanwhile, Germany and France urged Iran to release the tanker.
France’s Foreign Ministry said it was “very concerned” over the seizure of the Stena Impero, saying such an action harmed de-escalation efforts in the region.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry also voiced concern, urging Iran to release the ship and its crew. The seizure was a “dangerous further aggravation of an already tense situation,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.
IRGC’s measure to seize Stena Impero came days after Britain’s naval forces unlawfully seized Iranian-owned oil tanker Grace 1 and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil in the Strait of Gibraltar, under the pretext that the supertanker had been suspected of carrying crude to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against the Arab country.
Reports, however, said the confiscation took place at the request of the US.
Tehran has condemned the seizure as “maritime piracy,” warning that it would not go unanswered. It has also rejected London’s claim that the ship had been bound for Syria.
Zarif further criticized the UK for capturing the Iranian oil tanker, calling on London to “cease being an accessory” to the US “economic terrorism” against the Iranian nation.
In another tweet on Saturday, Zarif said the Islamic Republic has no problem with the American nation, calling on Washington not to interfere in Iran’s domestic affairs.
“The people and government of Iran have nothing against the American people. All we want is for no one to interfere in our internal affairs,” said the tweet.