UK summons Iranian ambassador after tanker goes to Syria
The Iranian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Office yesterday over the "complete disregard" of assurances that the Adrian Darya 1 tanker released last month from Gibraltar would not deliver oil to Syria.
The Foreign Office said it was clear the ship's cargo had been transferred to the Assad regime in an "unacceptable violation" of international norms.
Gibraltar released it on August 15 after receiving formal written assurances from Tehran that the ship would not discharge its 2.1 million barrels of oil in Syria.
The tanker - previously called Grace 1 - was seized in July in an operation by British Royal Marines but was released following written guarantees the oil would not be sold to Syria.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "This sale of oil to Assad's brutal regime is part of a pattern of behaviour by the Government of Iran designed to disrupt regional security."
On Tuesday, the Gibraltar Government said it was aware of reports suggesting tanker had discharged its cargo in Syria.
No.6 Convent Place said it would await the outcome of the meeting between the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab and the Iranian Ambassador to London before jumping to judgment.
When the Grace 1 was detained by the Gibraltar authorities in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, the Iranian Government asserted ownership of the cargo via the National Iranian Oil Company.
Additionally, Iran said repeatedly that the oil aboard the vessel was not bound for Syria.
The Gibraltar authorities, nonetheless, identified clear evidence aboard the Grace 1 which showed it had been bound to the sanctioned Baniyas Refinery in Syria.
The Iranian Government in Tehran subsequently committed in a meeting in London with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and in writing in a formal diplomatic note verbal that the vessel and its cargo, if released by Gibraltar from its detention in British Gibraltar territorial waters, would not be provided to any EU sanctioned entity.
No.6 said it would now await confirmation of who the National Iranian Oil Company sold the oil to.
"Gibraltar did its bit in relation to the Grace 1 to stop the vessel when we did,” Mr Picardo said.
“We held her here, in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters for 45 days.” “Now we await details of the final destination of the oil before making any further comment.”
“It will be a massive volte face for Iran to have failed to live up to its written undertaking in the full glare of international public opinion.”
“They will really make themselves look shifty and unreliable if they have acted contrary to their repeated assertions and undertakings.”
No.6 said that if the that the reports of the oil being sold to Syria are true, “it will render worthless the written word of the Government of Iran on all matters”.
“The world will be better placed to judge Iran's position on other, more transcendental matters based on actions on this issue on which they have been under the microscope of international scrutiny,” it said in a statement.
“Before that, however, we should await a formal statement from the Government of Iran or the National Iranian Oil Company.”