After British commandos seized oil tanker, Iran accused the United Kingdom of committing “maritime privacy” on behalf of the United States.  

According to Al Jazeera,  a statement released by Iranian Foreign ministry on July 5, in particular, says  a senior Iranian foreign ministry official “described the UK move as unacceptable” during a meeting with the British ambassador, who had been summoned to hear a formal protest. 

He “called for the immediate release of the oil tanker, given that it has been seized at the request of the US, based on the information currently available,” the statement added.

Mohsen Rezai, a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander, said on July 5 that Iran should retaliate by seizing a British tanker if the U.K. does not release the Iranian vessel, according to Common Dreams

Iranian Press TV says Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has denounced Britain’s illegal seizure of an Iranian oil tanker, warning that the act of “piracy” will not go unanswered.

“The wicked Britain commits an act of maritime piracy and steals our ship,” said Ayatollah Khamenei. “They (the British) perpetrate a crime and make it look legal.”

“The Islamic Republic and faithful elements of the establishment will not leave this wickedness unanswered and will respond to it at an appropriate time and place,” the Leader added.

Ayatollah Khamenei further censured the Europeans’ “arrogant” approach to a 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Iran, whose fate is now hanging in the balance due to Europe’s failure to meet its end of the bargain and compensate for the US’s withdrawal, according to Press TV.

The British marines and the port authorities in Gibraltar on July 4 detained an Iranian oil tanker on suspicion it was heading to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.  

According to The New York Times, Spain’s acting foreign minister, Josep Borrell, told Spanish news media that the oil tanker had been seized following “a request from the United States to the United Kingdom.”  He reportedly said that Spain had been kept informed about the seizure, but offered no details to support his assertion about an American request.

Although it is not illegal under international law to buy or ship Iranian oil or related products, foreign companies that do so risk punishment by the United States. Iran has been largely cut off from European markets by the American sanctions, which were imposed by the Trump administration after it withdrew the United States from the nuclear accord.