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Gibraltar police arrest captain and chief officer of Iranian tanker

The arrest comes after Iranian boats attempted to block BP-owned oil tanker near Strait of Hormuz
The Grace 1 vessel was tracked off the coast of Iran in April and accused of breaching EU sanctions on Syria (AFP)

Police have arrested the captain and chief officer of the supertanker Grace one in Gibraltar on suspicion that the Iranian ship had breached EU sanctions on Syria, officials said.

A spokesperson from the Gibraltar police told the Gibraltar Chronicle that the arrests had taken place and that it had also obtained documents and electronic devices from the ship. 

Despite their arrest on Thursday afternoon, the two men have not been charged as investigations continue into Grace One's presence near Gibraltar. 

This latest escalation comes after Iranian boats attempted to block a British oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping channel in the Gulf.

The Grace 1 vessel was tracked off the coast of Iran in April (MEE Graphics)

The UK's Ministry of Defence said that a British naval vessel had to intervene after three Iranian boats had attempted to impede the BP-owned oil tanker. 

The boats that approached the BP-owned oil tanker are believed to be owned by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The IRGC, however, denied there had been any confrontation. 

"There has been no confrontation in the last 24 hours with any foreign vessels, including British ones," the IRGC said in a statement issued on Thursday.

The statement added that if the IRGC was ordered to seize foreign vessels it would do so "immediately, decisively and speedily".

Iran's foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif claimed the UK was "creating tensions" and said that Britain's claims had "no value".

The incident occurred almost a week after British Royal Marines boarded an Iranian tanker, Grace 1, off Gibraltar and seized it on suspicion that it was breaking sanctions by taking oil to Syria.

Earlier on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Britain would face "consequences" over the seizure of the Iranian tanker.

"I point out to the British that you initiated insecurity and you shall grasp the consequences of it later on," Rouhani said in comments broadcast on state TV and quoted by AFP.