UK sets condition for release of captured Iranian supertanker

UK sets condition for release of captured Iranian supertanker
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says that an Iranian tanker seized by Britain near Gibraltar would be released as long as it doesn’t head to Syria.
2 min read
13 July, 2019
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt indicated that the captured tanker could be released soon [Getty]

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt sought to ease tensions with Iran on Saturday, saying a supertanker held at the British territory of Gibraltar would be released if Tehran guaranteed it was not heading to Syria.

He said he had a "constructive call" with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, who he said assured him that Tehran "is not seeking to escalate" tensions between the countries.

"I reassured him our concern was destination not origin of the oil on Grace One," a tanker seized off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4, Hunt tweeted.

US officials believed the tanker was destined for Syria to deliver oil, in violation of separate sets of EU and US sanctions. Gibraltar police arrested the Indian captain and chief officer of the Iranian vessel following its capture.

Hunt said Britain "would facilitate release if we received guarantees that it would not be going to Syria, following due process in Gib [Gibraltar] courts.

"Was told by FM Zarif that Iran wants to resolve issue and is not seeking to escalate."

Tehran had reacted angrily to the seizure, and Britain this week said Iranian military vessels had tried to "impede the passage" of a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

Hunt said Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo was doing an "excellent job co-ordinating issue and shares UK perspective on the way forward".

Hunt also said he raised with Zarif the imprisonment of British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and Zarif "said he would continue to seek to find a solution".

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