LONDON: Britain accused Iran on Tuesday of breaching its assurances that a tanker held off Gibraltar earlier this year would not transport oil to Syria and summoned the Iranian ambassador to protest.
“It is now clear that Iran has breached these assurances and that the oil has been transferred to Syria and (President Bashar al-Assad’s) murderous regime,” the Foreign Office said.
It said Britain would raise the issue at the United Nations, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warning that it was part of a “pattern of behaviour… designed to disrupt regional security”.
“We want Iran to come in from the cold but the only way to do that is to keep its word and comply with the rules-based international system,” he said.
Gibraltar security forces aided by British Royal Marines intercepted the Grace 1 Iranian supertanker off the coast of the British overseas territory on July 4.
It was suspected of shipping its 2.1 million barrels of oil to Syria, in breach of European Union sanctions.
Iran reacted with fury to the seizure, saying it was an act of “piracy”. A Gibraltar court ordered its release in mid-August against US objections.
“Iran repeatedly gave assurances to the government of Gibraltar that the Grace 1/Adrian Darya 1 would not deliver oil to any EU-sanctioned entity in Syria or elsewhere,” the Foreign Office statement said.
“Iran’s actions represent an unacceptable violation of international norms and the UK will raise the issue at the United Nations later this month.”
Gibraltar First Minister Fabian Picardo issued a cautious reaction.
“We await details of the final destination of the oil before making any further comment,” he said in a statement.
“It will be a massive volte face for Iran to have failed to live up to its written undertaking in the full glare of international public opinion.
“They will really make themselves look shifty and unreliable if they have acted contrary to their repeated assertions and undertakings.”