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Iran Says Discussions Ongoing With Britain Over Impounded Oil Tanker

A British Royal Navy patrol vessel guards the oil supertanker Grace 1, that's on suspicion of carrying Iranian oil to Syria, as it sits anchored in waters of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. July 4, 2019

Iran’s deputy foreign minister has revealed that UK ambassador in Tehran visited the foreign ministry Saturday evening for a second time in recent days to discuss the issue of an Iranian oil tanker impounded at Gibraltar.

Abbas Araqchi (Araghchi) told the media on Sunday, July 7, “We are continuously in touch with the British government and yesterday once again the British ambassador visited the foreign ministry and we also pursue legal channels”.

The tanker Grace 1 was stopped by Gibraltar authorities with the assistance of Royal Marines on July 4 in territorial waters that Spain claims falls within its jurisdiction. It is said to be carrying around two million barrels of fuel oil to Syria, which is under European Union sanctions.

Araqchi added, “We have also invited the Spanish ambassador in Tehran and we are holding some discussions with the Spanish government”.

The impoundment of the tanker has been extended for two weeks and the United States has expressed its satisfaction at the British action to stop the ship.

However, Araqchi claimed on Sunday the ships destination was not Syria and was just “passing through international waters”.

No European country is buying oil from Iran under U.S. sanctions and it is not clear if the tanker was not on its way to Syria, then why was it heading into the Mediterranean Sea. Ship tracking companies have confirmed Grace 1 circled Africa after leaving the Persian Gulf and reached Gibraltar heading into the Mediterranean.