Detained Iranian oil tanker raises stakes in Europe

World Today

A court in the British colony of Gibraltar has ordered a seized Iranian oil tanker to be detained for an additional two weeks.

British forces boarded the supertanker Thursday on suspicion it was en route to Syria delivering Iranian oil, in violation of EU sanctions.

Iran is demanding the release of the ship, warning of tit-for-tat action.

CGTN’s Nathan King reports.

After the downing of the U.S. drone and tanker attacks blamed on Iran this latest incident is further escalating tensions.

The seizure of the Grace 1 by U.K. special forces is the first time one of Washington’s European allies has so publicly enforced the U.S. oil embargo against Iran and EU sanctions against Syria.

According to Spain, which claims the rock of Gibraltar as their own, the U.K. acted following a tip-off from Washington.

“Naturally, we were aware of this operation. Police patrol boat were guarding the area but we are studying the circumstances in which it happened. It was a demand by the United States to the United Kingdom and we are looking into how it affects our sovereignty because it happened in, what we understand, are Spanish waters,” Josep Borrell Spain’s acting foreign minister said

Iran has responded angrily and remains defiant. Tehran has already exceeded limits on uranium enrichment set by the nuclear deal that Washington abandoned a year ago. An Iranian senior commander tweeted this after the seizure of the ship.

Washington is delighted that an ally is enforcing the oil embargo. Hawkish U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton tweeted:

Tensions with Tehran continue with no talks in sight, and no relief for Iran from crippling sanctions.