TEHRAN - Iran has dismissed reports about the seizure of a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, according to the country’s IRIB news agency.
It comes just one day after a general in Tehran threatened to seize a UK ship in retaliation after Royal Marines captured an Iranian super-tanker.
On Saturday, maritime tracking programs showed British-flagged crude oil tanker Pacific Voyager had come to a halt, and listed its status as “not under command", stoking fears that Iran had retaliated.
Whitehall sources, however, told The Telegraph that the situation was a “routine matter.”
“There’s nothing going on. The ship is just drifting because it’s early for its next port. It hasn’t issued any distress signals or shown any problems on board,” the sources said.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), which coordinates shipping in the Gulf, said later that the ship was "safe and well". The UKMTO, had been in direct contact with the vessel, an official said.
Iran dismissed as "fabricated" reports that the ship had been seized by its Revolutionary Guard forces. IRIB quoted unnamed senior Iranian government sources denying the boat had been seized.
Earlier in the week, Royal Marines helped customs officers impound the tanker near Gibraltar, believed to be carrying two million barrels of Iranian crude to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, sparking a diplomatic spat.
The move provoked fury in Iran, which accused Britain of bowing to US pressure to blockade its oil exports, even summoning the British ambassador to the foreign ministry in Tehran to express “its very strong objection to the illegal and unacceptable seizure” of the 300-meter vessel.
Gibraltar officials however said that it had acted independently and denied seizing the tanker at the request of the US or any other country.(FA)