UK Will Release Iranian Tanker – if Guaranteed it Won’t Go to Syria
The United Kingdom will facilitate the release the Iranian oil tanker being held off Gibraltar if the Islamic Republic guarantees it will not head to Syria, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told his Iranian counterpart over the phone on Saturday. “I reassured him our concern was destination, not origin of the oil on Grace 1 & that [the] UK would facilitate release if we received guarantees that it would not be going to Syria, following due process in [Gibraltar] courts,” Hunt wrote on Twitter. British Royal Marines seized the vessel off the coast of Gibraltar last week following what was deemed to be a violation of European Union (EU) sanctions due to suspicions that the vessel was transporting oil to Syria. The EU has had sanctions in place against Syria since 2011. Tehran has denied this allegation and called for the ship’s release. Seemingly in response, five boats allegedly belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) approached a British oil tanker in the Gulf. However, they withdrew following intervention from a nearby British warship.