BRITAIN should be “scared” about Tehran’s retaliation over the dramatic seizure of an Iranian supertanker by Royal Marines, a firebrand cleric warned today.
Mohammad Ali Mousavi Jazayeri hinted the Islamic Republic may strike back over the capture of the giant vessel, impounded over fears it was illegally shipping oil to Syria.
“I am openly saying that Britain should be scared of Iran’s retaliatory measures over the illegal seizure of the Iranian oil tanker,” said the cleric, a member of the powerful clerical body the Assembly of Experts.
“We have shown that we will never remain silent against bullying …As we gave a staunch response to the American drone, the appropriate response to this illegal capture (of the tanker) will be given by Iran as well,” he said.
He spoke out weeks after Tehran’s forces shot down the unmanned US military drone it claimed had intruded into Iranian airspace.
Earlier former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaee said on Twitter that it was Tehran’s “duty” to strike back and seize a UK ship.
Commandos dramatically detained the tanker over suspicions it was carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions on Thursday.
Gibraltar’s Supreme Court today granted a 14-day extension for the local authorities to legally detain the supertanker.
However, Rezaee – now a top politician – tweeted: “The Islamic Revolution was never an initiator of tension during its 40-year-old history, however, it has not hesitated to respond to bullies.
“If UK doesn’t return the Iranian tanker, the duty of responsible (Iranian) bodies is to seize a British oil tanker in a retaliatory measure.”
Rezaee did not spell out how and where the Islamic Republic intended to strike back.
He hit out hours after Iran summoned the British ambassador in Tehran for heated diplomatic talks over the Gibraltar raid.
Troops in a military chopper from 42 Commando – backed by comrades in a speedboat – led the operation in Gibraltar’s waters during the early hours of Thursday morning.
However, Iran has now hit out at what it calls the “illegal seizure” of the ship and its contents.
A foreign ministry spokesman told Iranian TV the seizure was “destructive” and could increase tensions in the Gulf.
The 30 marines in a Wildcat helicopter were flown out to lead the mission at the request of the Gibraltar police – before abseiling onto the deck of the “rogue” tanker.
UK Ministry of Defence sources said that British troops were at all times acting under civil authority, at the direction of the Gibraltar police.
British authorities revealed today that the crew of the tanker are being interviewed – as witnesses, not criminals – in an effort to establish the nature of the cargo and where it was heading.
The spokesman said the 28-member crew, who have remained on board the supertanker, were mainly Indians with some Pakistanis and Ukrainians.