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1 Aug, 2019 14:31

UK says no to tanker swap with Tehran, insists Iranian vessel was seized legally

UK says no to tanker swap with Tehran, insists Iranian vessel was seized legally

The British government has dismissed the possibility of exchanging an Iranian tanker it detained near Gibraltar for a British-flagged tanker later seized by Iran in the Persian Gulf.

“We are not going to barter: if people or nations have detained UK-flagged [ships] illegally then the rule of law and rule of international law must be upheld,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday.

He insisted that in contrast to Tehran’s maritime actions, the UK had been on firm legal ground when it seized the Iranian tanker.

British Marines seized the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 near Gibraltar on July 4, claiming it was transporting oil to Syria, in violation of EU sanctions. Tehran responded to the move in tit-for-tat fashion, detaining a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz two weeks later. Iran claimed that the vessel, the Stena Impero, had been “violating international maritime rules.”

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Tehran has stated that it hopes to settle the dispute through legal and diplomatic channels. Britain, on the other hand, has responded to the tensions by deploying its Navy to “support the safe passage of British-flagged ships” traveling through the Strait of Hormuz.

The patrols are expected to be joined by the US and other European nations as part of an initiative to protect Western shipping traffic in the waterway.

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