Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami has slammed as an act of “piracy” Britain’s seizure of an Iranian oil tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar, saying Tehran will not tolerate such actions.
“The action runs counter to international regulations and is a kind of maritime piracy,” Hatami said, while addressing a ceremony in the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas on Monday.
Referring to the Islamic Republic long record in combating piracy, he said: “Definitely this maritime piracy will not be tolerated by us”.
Gibraltar police and customs agencies, aided by a detachment of British Royal Marines, boarded and impounded Iranian supertanker Grace 1 in the Strait of Gibraltar on Thursday, upon a request from the United States.
Later that day, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Britain’s ambassador to the country to express its strong protest at the move.Addressing a ceremony in the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas, Hatami said the move was threatening and incorrect, noting that such threats “will not be tolerated by us”.
At the Foreign Ministry, Rob Macaire was told that the British Royal Marines’ move was tantamount to “maritime piracy”, and that the UK must immediately release the oil tanker.
It was also emphasized that the Islamic Republic of Iran will employ all its political and legal capacities to secure the release of the vessel and uphold its rights.
Spain, which challenges the British ownership of Gibraltar, said the action was prompted by a US request to Britain and appeared to have taken place in Spanish waters.
Experts believe the measure taken by the British government in seizing the Iranian tanker is illegal and can have serious consequences for the government in London.
Elsewhere in his Monday remarks, the Iranian defense minister hailed the Iranian armed forces for shooting down an intruding US spy drone in the Persian Gulf last month.
He said the incident sent a message to Washington that Iran will defend its borders no matter what.
He highlighted Iran’s capability in manufacturing the military equipment it needed, saying “we spare no effort to defend the country’s borders.”