Military chief: British seizure of Iranian oil tanker ‘won’t go unanswered’ 

July 9, 2019

Tehran – Major General Mohammad Baqeri, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, threatened on Tuesday that the British seizure of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar “will not go unanswered”.

Baqeri said Iran will respond to this move at a “proper time and place”.

British Royal Marines boarded the ship, Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar on Thursday and seized it over accusations it was breaking sanctions by taking oil to Syria.

The British navy has captured the supertanker in retaliation for the “direct, transparent and courageous” move by the Iranian military to shoot down an intruding U.S. spy drone last month, Baqeri said.

Iran has condemned the British government’s move as “maritime piracy” and summoned Britain’s ambassador three times in protest. Tehran has vowed to employ all its political and legal capacities to secure the release of the vessel and uphold its rights.

On Sunday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi denied reports that the supertanker was carrying oil to Syria.

“Contrary to Britain’s announcement, the tanker was not bound for Syria, and the port mentioned is not capable of receiving such a tanker,” Araqchi told reporters at a news conference in Tehran.

In his Tuesday remarks, General Baqeri said the Islamic Republic has shown that it is not seeking war with other countries.

The military chief criticized Western countries for failing to secure Iran’s interests under the 2015 nuclear deal, saying it is not Iran but the enemy that lacks commitment to its obligations.

He also said Iran’s downing of the U.S. drone is a testament to its growing military power.

“Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran enjoys the necessary power in the missile, naval and air defense spheres, and this fact has posed a serious challenge to one of the enemy’s strong points, namely its aerial and missile capability.”

PA/MH
 

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