BP oil tanker sheltering in Gulf over fear of Iran attack

Royal Marines during live fire drills in 2012

Tehran denies this and claims the vessel was intercepted in global waters.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif condemned a recent move by the British government to capture an Iranian oil tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar, saying, "It sets a unsafe precedent and must end now".

In response Zarif said, "Iran is neither a member of the EU nor subject to any European oil embargo".

However, Gibraltar says it had reasonable grounds to feel the Grace 1 ship was carrying crude oil to the Baniyas refinery in Syria.

The move provoked fury in Iran, which accused Britain of bowing to U.S. pressure to blockade its oil exports, even summoning the British ambassador to the foreign ministry in Tehran to express "its very strong objection to the illegal and unacceptable seizure" of the 300-meter vessel.

Tensions between Iran and the United Kingdom may remain high until the legal issues surrounding the arrest in Gibraltar are smoothed out, Jakob said.

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Separately, Iranian army chief Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi said on Monday that Iran is not looking for war with any country, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.

Grace 1, capable of carrying two million barrels of oil, was halted Thursday by police and customs agencies in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on Spain's southern tip.

The ship "was navigating in worldwide waters", Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said at a press conference in Tehran.

Iran on Friday demanded that Britain immediately release the tanker, but Gibraltar's Supreme Court ruled that the vessel can be held for 14 more days.

While the European Union has banned oil shipments to Syria since 2011, it had never seized a tanker at sea.

The IAEA is in charge of verifying the restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities imposed by the deal, which also lifted worldwide sanctions against Tehran.

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