A senior Iranian official has threatened that a British oil tanker will be seized, if a detained Iranian ship is not released.
Mohsen Rezaei, the Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, made the threat on Twitter. The council advises Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.
“If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities’ duty to seize a British oil tanker”, he said in the tweet.
The threat comes as at least one British-flagged tanker, a supertanker named Pacific Voyager, is passing near the Iranian coast en route to the Saudi port of Ras Tanura. It is a Japanese-owned vessel, operated by a Singaporean company, and hired by a subsidiary of a South Korean firm.
The threat follows the boarding and seizure of the Iranian supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar for allegedly carrying oil from Iran to Syria, in breach of EU sanctions. The seizure was conducted by Gibraltar authorities with the help of around 30 marines from British Royal Marines’ 42 Commando unit.
The ship was initially detained for 72-hours, but Gibraltar’s Supreme Court granted a 14-day extension on Friday.
Following the incident, Iran summoned the British ambassador in Tehran in protest saying it as illegal and a “form of piracy.