Tehran: Iran on Sunday said that the supertanker seized by Britain’s Royal Marines earlier this week off Gibraltar was not transporting crude oil to Syria as has been claimed by the UK.
“Contrary to what the British authorities are claiming, the tanker was not headed for Syria,” Sputnik quoted Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi as saying. The top Iranian diplomat did not specify as to where the ship was headed.
It was earlier reported the crude oil was being shipped to the Banyas refinery in northwest Syria.
Araqchi said that the refinery would not have been able to accommodate the vessel.
Tehran remains in contact with the British authorities to demand the immediate release of the vessel and would resort to “legal mechanisms” if the diplomacy fails, he added.
The Royal Marines on Thursday morning (local time) had seized a supertanker on the suspicion that it was smuggling Iranian crude oil to Syria.
The incident has triggered a diplomatic row between London and Tehran at a time when the European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) are battling to save the treaty.
Washington has imposed tough sanctions against Iran and threatened to apply secondary sanctions against any country or company that continues to engage in the purchase of energy resources from Tehran.
Although Britain does not support Washington’s stance, the vessel was seized because it was suspected of violating the European sanctions against Syria.