- An oil tanker was seized by British Royal Marines in Gibraltar after it was accused of breaching EU sanctions by bringing Iranian oil to Syria.
- An Iranian government spokesman said the tanker had been illegally detained.
- The EU imposes sanctions on Syria over its treatment of civilians under President Bashar Assad.
- Spain’s caretaker foreign minister said that the tanker was stopped at the request of the US, which has increased tensions with Iran in recent weeks over oil.
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British Royal Marines helped to seize an oil tanker after it claims that it was of breaching EU sanctions by bringing Iranian oil to Syria.
The tanker, Grace 1, was seized in British territory off Gibraltar on Thursday. According to Reuters, it had previously sailed around around Africa from the Middle East, Reuters reported.
A spokesman for the Iranian government said on Thursday that the tanker had been illegally stopped from passing through the Strait of Gibraltar by the UK. It said Iran had summoned the British ambassador to its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran.
A spokesperson for the UK Ministry of Defence told Business Insider that the Royal Marines acted at the request of local authorities in Gibraltar, which is a British territory with its own government.
Fabian Picardo, the head of Gibraltar’s government, said on Thursday that it had “detained the vessel and its cargo.”
He said “we have reason to believe that the Grace 1 was carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas Refinery in Syria.” This would breach EU sanctions.
Reuters reported earlier on Thursday that it had seen data that suggested the oil was Iranian. The ship’s documents say that the oil is from Iraq, Reuters said. Al Jazeera also reported that mapping data shows the ship sailed from Iran.
The UK government said in a statement that it supports Gibraltar’s actions.
“We welcome this firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities, acting to enforce the EU Syria Sanctions regime,” they said.
The EU imposed sanctions against Syria’s government over its treatment of civilians under President Bashar Assad. It has banned shipments of oil to Syria since 2011.
Spain’s caretaker foreign minister said that the tanker was stopped at the request of the US, which has seen tensions increase with Iran in recent weeks.