Britain has slammed Iran for what it says is a breach in assurances regarding the previously detained Grace 1/Adrian Darya 1 tanker. Specifically a condition of the vessel's release from UK/Gibraltar captivity last month was that it would not offload its 2.1 million barrels of Iranian oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.
But the UK can do little beyond merely issuing a formal complaint to the United Nations, which it plans to do next month, according to Reuters. London was also reported to have summoned Iran's ambassador on Tuesday to condemn the move.
“Iran has shown complete disregard for its own assurances over Adrian Darya 1,” foreign minister Dominic Raab said in a statement. “This sale of oil to (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s) brutal regime is part of a pattern of behavior by the Government of Iran designed to disrupt regional security.”
The diplomatic row comes days after over the weekend Iran's foreign ministry confirmed the tanker had unloaded its valuable cargo, estimated at $130 million in crude, "on the Mediterranean coast," according to state media. Just prior the Iranian tanker was observed within a few nautical miles of Syria's coast via satellite images.
“Iran’s actions represent an unacceptable violation of international norms,” the UK statement said.
However, we should point out it's also not within "international norms" - indeed it's unprecedented - for Royal Marines to raid a foreign vessel in international waters at the bidding of Washington, which is precisely what happen when the tanker was detained in the first place.
Currently, Tehran is rumored to be preparing the release the British-flagged Stena Impero, captured in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19 in retaliation for Britain's prior capture of the Grace 1 off Gibraltar on July 4.
Iranian officials were quoted early this week on state TV as saying the British vessel is "undergoing the last legal procedures" and will hopefully be released "in the near future."
It remains that though the UK will make its fury known through diplomatic channels, it doesn't have any chips to play, and the reality is its initial military seizure of the Grace 1 has clearly backfired.