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Iran minister vows to respond to UK detaining oil tanker

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s defense minister vows today to respond to Britain’s detention of an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar.

The tanker’s seizure “will not be tolerated by us and will not go without a response,” says Amir Hatami, quoted by Iran’s ISNA and Tasnim news agencies. “This move is against international regulations and a kind of maritime piracy,” he says during a ceremony at Bandar Abbas port in southern Iran.

The 330-meter (1,000-feet) Grace 1, capable of carrying two million barrels of oil, was halted Thursday by police and customs agencies in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on Spain’s southern tip. Authorities in Gibraltar said they suspected the tanker was carrying crude to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. Tehran denies this and claims the vessel was intercepted in international waters.

The tanker’s detention “sets a dangerous precedent and must end now,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweets today. He questions the seizure’s legality, saying “Iran is neither a member of the EU nor subject to any European oil embargo.”

Europe is supposed to be “against extraterritoriality,” unlike the United States, he writes.

— AFP

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