RNA - In early July, British marines and Gibraltar police seized an Iranian tanker off the Southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo claimed that the ship was transporting crude oil to Syria “in violation” of the EU sanctions placed on Damascus. Washington has applauded the move, hailing it as a sign that Europe is on board with the US’ unilateral sanctions against Iran.
Iran condemned the “illegal move” of London and described it as “tantamount to piracy”. Tehran accused the UK of doing Washington’s bidding and helping the US attempt to stifle the Islamic Republic’s oil exports, rejecting London's claim that the supertanker was carrying crude for Syria.
The vessel's captain, an Indian national, rejected the narative by Gibraltar police who claimed that "minimum force" was used to take control of the oil tanker.
The captain, who asked not to be named, stated that he was radioed a police request to board his ship and had lowered his ladder, noting that but before anyone could board, a military helicopter landed on the ship in "a very dangerous move".
He told the BBC he had identified himself as the captain but the marines ignored him, and instead pointed their guns and shouted "look forward, look forward".
"They didn't care whether I was master… there was no regulations… we had 28 unarmed crew. I was in a state of shock, everybody was in a state of shock. How do you come on a ship like this with armed forces and such brute force. For what reason?" he explained.
The marines could have boarded the ship and simply told him he had been arrested, he continued.
Royal Gibraltar Police said the marines had acted in support of its officers and applied "the minimum use of force" to ensure officers could get on board, deal with the crew and take control of the vessel. It added that the ship's four senior officers had been interviewed under caution.
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei had slammed Britain’s illegal seizure of the oil tanker, warning London of a pending response to the seizure of the supertanker that he referred to as a case of "piracy".
Then a week later in mid-July, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) impounded the British tanker ship, 'Stena Impero', as it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz en route to Saudi Arabia "for failing to respect international maritime rules”.
The recent moves by foreign powers in the Middle East such as US sanctions on Tehran's oil, UK seizure of Iranian supertanker, as well as, "sabotage operations" on oil ships have intensified the turmoil in the region and the turmoil in the international energy market, affecting global crude prices in recent months.