By Senhan Bolelli
MADRID (AA) – The EU and some European countries on Saturday called on Iran to release the British oil tanker, which it seized on Friday, and its crew.
The European Commission expressed “deep concern” over the seizure of the British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
It said the move would escalate tensions in the region, and called on Tehran to exercise restrain.
On Friday, Iran said it had confiscated British tanker Stena Impero in the strategic waterway, in a move that followed Britain's July 4 seizure of an Iranian-flagged oil tanker off Gibraltar, a British overseas territory that abuts southern Spain.
London said the Iranian tanker was suspected of smuggling oil to Syria, in violation of EU sanctions on the Bashar al-Assad regime.
Iranian authorities said the 30,000-ton British-flagged ship has been taken to Iran for legal procedures.
– European countries condemn seizure
The governments of the Netherlands, Spain and Germany have also condemned the move.
The Dutch Foreign Ministry tweeted that the developments are worrisome.
“The Netherlands is deeply concerned by the seizure of a vessel in the #StraitofHormuz,” the ministry said.
“Unhindered freedom of navigation is of paramount importance. #Iran should promptly release the ship and its crew. The Netherlands stands with the United Kingdom,” it added.
Meanwhile, Spain's Foreign Ministry also issued a written statement which called on Tehran to release the vessel as soon as possible.
It also said that all decisions that would mount tensions in the region should be refrained.
Germany's Foreign Office was also among the countries which condemned the move.
“Germany condemns the detention of commercial vessels in the Gulf in the strongest possible terms,” the ministry tweeted.
“This is another dangerous escalation of an already tense situation,” it added and called on Iran to release the vessel without delay.
*Writing by Sena Guler