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Britain’s seizure of Iranian tanker won’t go ‘unanswered,’ army chief says

Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (Wolfgang Kumm/DPA/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar by British Royal Marines last week will not go “unanswered,” the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces has said.

“Capture of the Iranian oil tanker based on fabricated excuses…will not be unanswered and when necessary Tehran will give appropriate answer,” Major General Mohammad Baqeri was quoted by the semiofficial Tasnim news agency as saying on July 9.

Royal Marines boarded the supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4 and seized it over accusations it was breaking sanctions by taking oil to Syria.

Iran has demanded the immediate release of the oil tanker, while an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander threatened on July 5 to seize a British ship in retaliation.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the capture of the ship amounted to “piracy” and had set “a dangerous precedent and must end now.”

Gibraltar received permission from its Supreme Court to hold the tanker for 14 days.