TEHRAN: The Latest on the tensions between the United States and Iran (all times local):
China says it opposes unilateral sanctions against Iran and criticized what it describes as the “long arm jurisdiction” of the United States.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing said that international trade with Iran “within the framework of international law is reasonable and legitimate and deserves to be respected and protected.”
“We will resolutely defend our legitimate and lawful rights and interests,” the spokesman added.
China is one of the world powers that signed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which has been unraveling since President Donald Trump withdrew from it over a year ago.
The head of Gibraltar’s government says an Iranian supertanker seized last week by the British navy on suspicion of carrying Tehran’s oil to Syria was loaded with 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the parliament of Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, in a statement Friday that anyone who has a claim to the vessel and its cargo can file its claim in court.
The ship was intercepted by British Royal Marines off the southern tip of Spain on July 4. Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency at the time called the incident “an illegal seizure of an Iranian oil tanker.”
A senior Spanish official said the operation was requested by the United States, but Picardo says no other government asked Gibraltar to act.
He says the ship is suspected of breaching European Union sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.
Iran is demanding the British navy release an oil tanker seized last week off Gibraltar, accusing London of playing a “dangerous game.”
Friday’s comments from the Iranian Foreign Ministry come a day after police in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the southern tip of Spain, said they arrested the captain and chief officer of the supertanker suspected of breaching European Union sanctions by carrying a shipment of Iranian crude oil to Syria.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told Iranian state news agency IRNA that “the legal pretexts for the capture are not valid … the release of the tanker is in all countries’ interest.”
The tanker’s interception on July 4 has stoked already high tensions in the region.