Iran calls release of oil tanker a diplomatic victory

August 16, 2019

TEHRAN - Mahmoud Vaezi, the Iranian president’s chief of staff, said on Friday that release of the supertanker Grace 1 is a “diplomatic victory” for Iran.

The tanker “Grace 1” was seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off the coast of Gibraltar. Authorities claimed it was violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.

Iran had vehemently rejected any claims that the tanker was destined for Syria. Iran has further said the sanctions on Syria does not apply to non-EU members.

“Release of oil tanker Grace 1 with supports from the government and all bodies of the system and the country’s lawyers and diplomats is a diplomatic victory,” Vaezi told reporters.

The Gibraltar government, a semi-autonomous territory ruled by London, released on Thursday the Iranian supertanker Grace 1, despite the U.S. attempt to block the release of the vessel.

“Authorities in Gibraltar have released the Iranian supertanker Grace 1, which was seized on July 4 on suspicion it was shipping 2.1 million barrels of crude oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions,” the Gibraltar Chronicle reported on Thursday.

In a tweet on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called detention of the tanker “100 percent unlawful”.

“Our London Embassy note to UKFCO: -Protested the illegal detention of Grace1; -Repeated public statements about destination; & -Made it crystal clear that EU sanctions do NOT apply to Iran—a position shared by most Europeans. Nothing changes the fact: detention was 100% unlawful,” he tweeted.

UKFCO is an abbreviation for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 

In another tweet, Zarif said, “Having failed to accomplish its objectives through its economic terrorism—including depriving cancer patients of medicine— the U.S. attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas.”

Zarif added, “This piracy attempt is indicative of Trump admin's contempt for the law.”

Also, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said in a tweet message on Friday that the tanker was released despite the U.S. pressure and this is a “defeat” for Washington.

This victory is result of upholding the Iranian people’s rights, Rabiei added.

“Humiliating defeat”

Iranian Ambassador to London Hamid Baeidinejad also tweeted on Thursday, saying that the U.S. was desperately trying to prevent release of the tanker and faced a humiliating defeat.  

“The U.S. in a last minute attempt made a futile effort to block the release of the oil tanker and were faced with humiliating defeat. With recent attempts, all necessary preparations and technical issues to release the tanker to an open sea have been arranged and the ship will soon leave Gibraltar,” he wrote on Twitter, in Farsi.

NA/PA

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