TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Tuesday Iran will respond to Britain’s seizure of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar earlier this month.
On July 4, British forces detained the supertanker on behest of the United States, claiming that it was carrying oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.
Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran would respond to Britain’s "piracy” as he called on London to immediately release the oil tanker.
"The malicious Britain commits piracy and steals our ship. They perpetrate a crime and give it a legal appearance. The Islamic Republic and faithful elements of the establishment will not leave this evil deed unanswered and will respond to them at an appropriate time and place,” the Leader added.
Iran has condemned the seizure of the tanker, warning of reciprocal measures.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Saturday that Britain would facilitate the release the ship if Iran provided guarantees the vessel would not go to Syria.
Iranian officials have repeatedly denied the vessel is bound for Syria.
Iran-U.S. tensions have soared since last year when President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the Islamic Republic will keep rolling back its commitments under the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.
"According to our foreign minister, Europe made 11 commitments, none of which they abided by. We abided by our commitments and even beyond them. Now that we’ve begun to reduce our commitments, they oppose it. How insolent! You didn’t abide by your commitments!” Ayatollah Khamenei said, criticizing European countries which are party to the deal.
Ayatollah Khamenei censured the Europeans’ "arrogant” approach to the deal, whose fate is now hanging in the balance due to Europe’s failure to meet its end of the bargain and compensate for Washington’s withdrawal.
"When it comes to the issues between us and the Europeans, the source of the lingering problems is their arrogance,” the Leader said.
"We have just started to decrease our commitments (in the deal) and this process will certainly continue,” the Leader said in a speech in Tehran.
Iran announced last week that it had enriched uranium past the 3.67 percent limit set by the nuclear deal, and it has also surpassed the 300-kilogram cap on enriched uranium reserves.
On Sunday, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran had changed its strategy from one of "patience to that of retaliation.”
"If they decrease then we too shall decrease our commitments (in the deal)... If they fully implement their commitments than we too shall fully implement ours,” he said.