Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council (EC) Mohsen Rezaei decried the British Royal Marines’ move to seize an Iranian oil tanker, saying that the Islamic Republic should retaliate and capture a British tanker.
“Throughout its 40-year history, the Islamic Revolution has never initiated hostilities in any battles but has also never hesitated in responding to bullies,” Rezaei said on his Twitter account on Friday.
“If Britain does not free the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities’ duty to take a countermeasure and seize a British oil tanker,” the official added in his tweet.
British Royal Marines seized a giant Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar on Thursday for trying to take oil to Syria allegedly in violation of EU sanctions, a dramatic step that could escalate its confrontation with the West.
Analysts believe that the move by the British government to capture the Syria-bound tanker is illegal and can have serious consequences for the government in London.
The remarks come against the backdrop of increased tensions between Iran and the US with Washington imposing new sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The US has ratcheted up pressure on Iran since last year after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Since then, the administration of US President Donald Trump is trying to reduce Iran’s oil exports to “zero,” and has sent an aircraft carrier strike group, a bomber squad, an amphibious assault ship, and a Patriot missile battery to the Middle East to try to stack up pressure on Tehran.
Iranian officials, however, have dismissed such moves as psychological warfare, saying the country has its own ways of circumventing the American bans and selling crude oil.