(PM) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seems to suggest that if the United Kingdom releases the Iranian tanker it seized off the coast of Gibraltar in the early of July, then Iran is willing to return a British vessel it seized last week.
During a weekly cabinet meeting, the Iranian president warned the United Kingdom that they would get an appropriate response from Iran if they stepped away from the wrong actions in Gibraltar.
The United Kingdom seized the Grace-1 supertanker, an Iranian-flagged tanker, in the British overseas territory on Spain’s southern coast on July 4, suspecting the tanker was shipping oil to Syria which was seen as a breaching of European Union sanctions.
Two weeks later, Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel, was seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz, Tehran argued that the vessel had collided with a fishing boat and violated international law.
The UK and Iran have denied the accusations in turn and descended into a feud over the ships’ seizures amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran in the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most significant oil artery.
According to an Iranian official, the UK had sent a mediator to Iran to discuss the possibility of freeing of the Stena Impero.
Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, the head of the Supreme Leader’s office, gave no details about the British mediator’s trip to Tehran but he made an iconic reference to Britain’s involvement during colonial times in Iranian affairs.
“A country that at one-time appointed ministers and lawyers in Iran has reached a point where they send a mediator and plead for their ship to be freed,” Mohammadi Golpayegani said.
However, a British diplomatic source denied that the UK had sent any such representatives to Iran.