Iran threatened Britain Saturday for seizing its supertanker, saying the British should be “scared” of Tehran’s possible retaliation.
British Royal Marines took over the tanker Thursday because they believe it was transporting oil in violation of the European Union sanctions against Syria. The tanker’s crew was being interviewed to find out where the cargo came from and where they were taking it. The crew consists of Indians, Pakistanis and Ukrainians. they have remained aboard the ship.
The vessel was taken near the Strait of Gibraltar.
Iran denies any wrongdoing with Mohammad Ali Mousavi Jazayeri, a member of the Assembly of Experts, a powerful religious body, warning the British directly.
“I am openly saying that Britain should be scared of Iran’s retaliatory measures over the illegal seizure of the Iranian oil tanker,” Jazayeri said. “We have shown that we will never remain silent against bullying … As we have a staunch response to the American drone, the appropriate response to the illegal capture [of the tanker] will be given by Iran as well.”
Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaee took it a step further when he tweeted “if the UK does not release the Iranian oil tanker, our officials are duty-bound to reciprocate and seize a British oil tanker.”
Rezaee previously served as the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. but now he’s an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader.
Gibraltar chief minister Fabian Picardo said he believed the tanker was carrying a “shipment of crude oil to the Baniyas Refinery in Syria.” That would be in violation of the EU sanctions placed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2011.
The Syrian government hasn’t responded to the incident.
There are conflicting stories about who asked for the tanker to be seized. A senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official and Spain’s acting foreign minister Josep Borrell said the order did come from U.S. and British leaders.
Gibraltar’s government said in a statement that neither the United States nor Britain asked for the ship to taken over.