DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Britain will facilitate the release of a seized Iranian tanker Grace 1 if Iran can provide guarantees the vessel will not breach European sanctions on oil shipments to Syria, Britain's top diplomat said late Saturday. The comments by Jeremy Hunt could help de-escalate tensions that have spiked in recent days. In apparent retaliation for the seized tanker, Iranian paramilitary vessels tried to impede the passage of a British oil tanker through the Strait of Hormuz, only turning away after receiving "verbal warnings" from a British Royal Navy vessel accompanying the ship, the British government said. Hunt said he held a "constructive call" with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and reassured him "our concern was the destination, not the origin, of the oil." Hunt wrote that Zarif told him Iran is not seeking to escalate the situation.
Iran officials are pointing the finger at the U.S. and its allies for creating a'matchbox' in the Persian Gulf. Amid a growing confrontation between Iran and the West a year after President Trump pulled Washington out of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, an Iranian supertanker the U.S. has suspected to be tied to a sanctioned organization has lifted its anchor and started moving away from Gibraltar, marine traffic monitoring data showed late Sunday. The trail left by GPS data on Marinetraffic.com, a vessel-tracking service, showed the Iran-flagged Adrian Darya 1, previously known as Grace 1, moving shortly before midnight. The tanker slowly moved southeast toward a narrow stretch of international waters separating Morocco and the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. The vessel hauling $130 million worth of light crude oil had been detained for a month in the British overseas territory for allegedly attempting to breach European Union sanctions on Syria.
TEHRAN – Iran said Saturday that an attack on one of the country's oil tankers won't go unpunished, the official IRNA news agency reported. Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said a day after two missiles struck the Iranian tanker Sabiti as it traveled through the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia that "vicious behavior in international waterways will not go without a response." Shamkhani said an Iranian committee had gleaned some information on the attack from video images from the Sabiti. Also on Saturday, Cabinet spokesman Ali Rabiei said Iran is investigating the case while "avoiding hastiness." Nobody has claimed responsibility, and the Iranian government hasn't accused anyone of carrying out the assault.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – An Iranian-owned oil tanker was struck by two missiles off the Saudi port of Jiddah on Friday, Iranian state television reported, quoting the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) which owns the vessel. The tanker was set ablaze and suffered heavy damage and was leaking crude about 60 miles (96 km) from Jiddah, according to Iranian media. The alleged attack is the latest incident involving oil tankers in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf region, and is likely to ratchet up tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which operates in the region, said it was aware of media reports about the tanker, but did not have any further information at this time. There was no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia.
TEHRAN - Iran's state TV says Revolutionary Guard forces have seized a foreign tanker with 12 crew accused of smuggling oil. The seizure comes as tensions mount between the United States and Iran over the unraveling nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. Thursday's report says the tanker was smuggling fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers and was intercepted south of Iran's Larak Island in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. The TV didn't identify the tanker or say which country the crew were from. An oil tanker based in the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz drifted off into Iranian waters and stopped transmitting its location over two days ago.