By: Kayhan Int’l Staff Writer
It is almost a fortnight now since Britain committed one of the most notorious acts of modern piracy in international waters – worse than what the petty pirates of Somalia routinely do – when its commando terrorists surrounded a super oil tanker passing through the Strait of Gibraltar with 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude, boarded it, and towed it to the British occupied Spanish island of Rock of Gibraltar.
Since July 4, the Panama-flagged Grace 1 is forcibly berthed at Gibraltar and despite Iranian diplomatic efforts coupled with protests, as well as denunciations of this act of piracy by several countries, including Spain and Russia, has not been released.
Iran now has no other choice but to take effective practical measures against British interests to force the regime in London to release Grace 1 and its cargo from illegal detention, since the Leader of the Islamic Revolution has explicitly called for reprisals.
In his public address on Tuesday July 16, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said without mincing words: "Britain’s vicious regime commits piracy, and steals our ship. It makes its crimes appear legal. The Islamic Republic and those diligently committed to the system will respond to these vicious acts.”
This clear-cut statement is definitely rocking 10 Downing Street where Prime Minister Theresa May is busy packing her bags to leave, and the person coveting her post, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who it seems had given the piracy orders on receiving instructions from Washington, is scratching his head on what will be response of Tehran and where.
When the Leader says something he means it, and now it is up to Britain to listen to the voice of reason or suffer the consequences on the assumption that the roguish US regime of Donald Trump is its godfather.
It is worth noting that the British act of piracy has drawn worldwide criticism even from western analysts, who find fault with the British excuse to seize the ship on the allegation that it was violating sanctions of the European Union (EU) in carrying oil for the Baniyas port of Syria on the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea – an accusation which Iran has rejected.
The first and foremost question that arises is: On what grounds could a EU state detain in international water a non-European vessel transporting crude oil from a non-European country, Iran – even if it is supposedly for Syria?
As observers point: The EU has condemned the extra-territorial sanctions of the US against Iran. Moreover, following implementation of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action) in 2015, all EU sanctions on Iran have been lifted.
As for the oil tanker’s destination, though Syria is under EU sanctions for different reasons, this does not mean that all activities and persons in Syria are subject to a European blockade, which as per international law could be called an act of war.
Another point to note is that the EU sanctions prohibit the sale of jet fuel to Syria, and not crude for its refineries.
The Islamic Republic has categorically rejected the allegations that the Grace I was in Gibraltar’s territorial waters when Britain’s terrorist commandos boarded it, and there is no documented proof that the oil tanker was headed to Syria.
Until now, Iran has exercised patience, which is about to snap in view of British lawlessness, which is in stark contrast to London’s claim – along with France and Germany – for its respect for the JCPOA as valid and working.
The ball is thus in Britain’s court. It should either release Grace I and its cargo, or should get ready for the dire consequences of reprisal from Iran, which is around the corner, as the Leader of the Islamic Revolution has warned.