Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Iran probes seized UK-flagged tanker, Britain to hold emergency meeting

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The Stena Impero
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Patty Aguilar | 22 July, 2019, 09:33

The release on Sunday of an audio recording has shed new light on the seizure of a British-flagged tanker at the hands of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as tensions flare in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The Strait of Hormuz is a vital waterway through which a third of all seaborne crude oil passes.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, Britain said the tanker was approached by Iranian forces when it was in Omani territorial waters exercising its lawful right of passage, and the action "constitutes illegal interference". The tanker failed to respond to pertinent authorities after an accident involving an Iranian fishing boat and changed route instead.

Its crew is made up of 18 Indians, including the captain, three Russians, a Latvian and a Filipino.

Muraleedharan told the media that despite engaging in talks with Tehran and Iranian officials in Delhi, they did not have names of the Indian crew members.

"The investigation depends on the cooperation by the crewmembers on the vessel", he told Press TV.

"They have their own production, but they can't replace our oil", the minister said.

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A speedboat of the Iran's Revolutionary Guard moves around a British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which was seized on Friday by the Guard, in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. "Our role is to speak up for conflict resolution, de-escalation, the nuclear deal", Burgon said, adding, "But what we don't want to do is end up being the messengers or sidekicks of Donald Trump".

Tensions in the Gulf have escalated since May this year, when the U.S. boosted its military presence in the region in response to "indications of a credible threat by Iranian regime forces".

The oil market is under strain from an escalation of US' pressure policy on Iran, which is a key OPEC producer with more than 2 million bpd.

Oil prices rose on Monday amid high tensions in the Middle East after a British tanker was seized by the Iranian military at the end of last week.

The two contenders for the job are front-runner Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has a key role in dealing with the shipping crisis.

Teheran for weeks has vowed to retaliate for the seizure by Royal Marines of the tanker Grace 1 carrying Iranian oil near Gibraltar on July 4. "We will be speaking with our colleagues, our global allies, to see what can actually be done".

Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, blamed Washington and Trump's hawkish national security adviser John Bolton for luring Britain into conflict.

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