British Royal Marines Seize Tanker in Gibraltar Suspected of Voyage to Syria

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Mr Picardo added: "In the early hours of this morning, Gibraltar Port and Law Enforcement agencies, assisted by a detachment of Royal Marines, boarded a super tanker carrying crude oil to Syria".

"Islamic Iran in its 40-year history has never initiated hostilities in any battles but has also never hesitated in responding to bullies", Rezai said on his Twitter account on Friday.

Iran's intelligence minister says any negotiations with the United States would have to be approved by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and would require the lifting of USA sanctions.

Gibraltar said on Friday it had obtained an order extending the detention of the supertanker by 14 days because there were grounds to believe it was breaking sanctions by taking crude oil to Syria.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has condemned the European Union over its seizure of an Iranian oil tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar, saying that this move contradicts the EU's statements on its intention to preserve the Iranian nuclear deal.

Rezaei led the elite Guard during Iran's 1980s "Tanker War" in the Persian Gulf targeting the oil trade of the USA and its Arab allies.

The UK Government welcomed the "firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities" in intercepting the Grace 1.

The IAEA on Monday said its inspectors had confirmed Iran had surpassed the limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium established in the 2015 deal promising the country economic incentives in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

It follows a claim by the Spanish authorities that the seizure of the tanker was made at the request of the United States which had been tracking its movements.

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Spain's acting foreign minister also said, on Thursday, that the seizure of the ship was at the US's request.

Acting Foreign Minister Josep Borrell has claimed Gibraltar detained the supertanker Grace 1 after a request by the USA to Britain.

The government in the British overseas territory said that British Royal Marines boarded the supertanker, called the Grace 1, on July 4.

Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar's Chief Minister, said he authorised the assault because he believed the ship was bound for the Baniyas refinery in Syria.

The EU and others have imposed sanctions on President Bashar Assad's government over its continued crackdown against dissent.

"America & our allies will continue to prevent regimes in Tehran & Damascus from profiting off this illicit trade", John Bolton concluded.

European countries have walked a careful line since a year ago when the United States ignored their pleas and pulled out of a pact between Iran and world powers that gave Tehran access to global trade in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

The move was seen as an attempt to put pressure on the European signatories - Britain, France and Germany - to persuade the USA to lift its sanctions which are crippling the Iranian economy.

Iran has demanded that the United Kingdom hand over an oil tanker detained in Gibraltar, accusing the country of seizing the ship at the request of the US.