Iran calls on Britain to immediately release its seized supertanker

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Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, gives a press conference in the capital Tehran. (AFP)
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A handout picture released by the Ministry of Defence shows a night vision image of British Royal Marines taking part in the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker, Grace 1 in the early hours of July 4, 2019 off the Gibraltar strait. (Handout/MOD/CROWN COPYRIGHT 2019/AFP)
Updated 13 July 2019

Iran calls on Britain to immediately release its seized supertanker

  • Iran has warned of reciprocal measures if the tanker is not released by Britain
  • British Royal Marines seized an Iranian oil tanker last week on suspicion that it was breaking European sanctions

DUBAI:: Iran called on Britain on Friday to immediately release its oil tanker which British Royal Marines seized last week on suspicion that it was breaking European sanctions by taking oil to Syria, a foreign ministry spokesman told state news agency IRNA.
“This is a dangerous game and has consequences ... the legal pretexts for the capture are not valid ... the release of the tanker is in all countries’ interest,” the spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said.
Iran has warned of reciprocal measures if the tanker is not released by Britain.
Britain said on Thursday that three Iranian vessels tried to block a British-owned tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz, which controls the flow of Middle East oil to the world, but backed off when confronted by a Royal Navy warship. Iran denied that its vessels had done any such thing.
Tension between Iran and the West has increased a week after Britain seized the tanker and London said the British Heritage, operated by oil company BP, had been approached in the strait between Iran and the Arabian peninsula.
Britain is among European parties to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, which President Donald trump pulled out of last year and reimposed and toughened sanctions on Tehran.
“Foreign powers should leave the region because Iran and other regional countries are capable of securing the regional security,” Mousavi said.


Iraqi protesters block commercial ports, split capital

Updated 19 November 2019

Iraqi protesters block commercial ports, split capital

  • Iraqi civilians are increasingly relying on boats to ferry them across the Tigris River as ongoing standoffs shut key bridges in Baghdad
  • The Jumhuriya, Sinak and Ahrar bridges connect both sides of the city by passing over the river

BAGHDAD: Anti-government protesters blocked access to a second major commercial port in southern Iraq on Tuesday, as bridge closures effectively split the capital in half, causing citizens to rely on boats for transport to reach the other side of the city.
Since anti-government protests began Oct. 1, at least 320 people have been killed and thousands wounded in Baghdad and the mostly Shiite southern provinces. Demonstrators have taken to the streets in the tens of thousands over what they say is widespread corruption, lack of job opportunities and poor basic services, despite the country’s oil wealth.
Security forces have used live ammunition, tear gas and stun guns to repel protesters, tactics that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday would be punished with sanctions.
“We will not stand idle while the corrupt officials make the Iraqi people suffer. Today, I am affirming the United States will use our legal authorities to sanction corrupt individuals that are stealing Iraqis’ wealth and those killing and wounding peaceful protesters,” he said in remarks to reporters in Washington.
“Like the Iraqi people taking to the streets today, our sanctions will not discriminate between religious sect or ethnicity,” he added. “They will simply target those who do wrong to the Iraqi people, no matter who they are.”
Over a dozen protesters blocked the main entrance to Khor Al-Zubair port, halting trade activity as oil tankers and other trucks carrying goods were unable to enter or exit. The port imports commercial goods and materials as well as refined oil products.
Crude from Qayara oil field in Ninewa province, in northern Iraq, is also exported from the port.
Khor Al-Zubair is the second largest port in the country. Protesters had burned tires and cut access to the main Gulf commercial port in Umm Qasr on Monday and continued to block roads Tuesday.
Iraqi civilians are increasingly relying on boats to ferry them across the Tigris River as ongoing standoffs between demonstrators and Iraqi security forces on three key bridges has shut main thoroughfares connecting east and west Baghdad.
The Jumhuriya, Sinak and Ahrar bridges, which have been partially occupied by protesters following days of deadly clashes, connect both sides of the city by passing over the Tigris River. The blockages have left Iraqis who must make the daily commute for work, school and other day-to-day activities with no choice but to rely on river boats.
“After the bridges were cut, all the pressure is on us here,” said Hasan Lilo, a boat owner in the capital. “We offer a reasonable transportation means that helps the people.”