Skip to main content

Iranian army chief says UK oil tanker seizure will not go 'unanswered'

Major General Mohammad Bagheri says Thursday's seizure near Gibraltar was based on 'fabricated excuses'
Oil supertanker Grace 1 operation in waters off British overseas territory of Gibraltar (Reuters)

The UK's decision to seize an Iranian oil tanker on the coast of Gibraltar will not go "unanswered" warned one of the country's top military officials on Tuesday.

Iran's armed forces chief of staff, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, said despite the incident Iran had the "upper hand" on its enemies, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

"Capture of the Iranian oil tanker based on fabricated excuses...will not be unanswered and when necessary Tehran will give appropriate answer," Bagheri said.

British Royal Marines boarded the ship, Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar on Thursday and seized it over accusations it was breaking sanctions by taking oil to Syria.

Iran has demanded the immediate release of the oil tanker, while an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander threatened on Friday to seize a British ship in retaliation.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


On Monday, the country's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also warned that the capture of the tanker could set a "dangerous precedent".

“Iran is neither a member of the EU nor subject to any European oil embargo,” Zarif said on his Twitter account

“Last I checked, EU was against extraterritoriality. UK's unlawful seizure of a tanker with Iranian oil on behalf of #B_Team is piracy, pure and simple."

The government of Gibraltar said on Friday that they had received permission from their supreme court to hold the tanker for 14 days.

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander threatened on Friday to seize a British ship in retaliation.

An Iranian cleric then doubled-down on Tehran's stance on Saturday morning, saying Britain should be "scared" of Iran's response. 

"We have shown that we will never remain silent against bullying," said cleric Mohammad Ali Mousavi Jazayeri, warning of "an appropriate response" and mentioning Iran's shooting down of a US drone last month.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.