Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Iran Warns UK Against 'Dangerous and Unwise' Moves After Tanker Seizure

Gov't working on release of Filipino seafarer after Iran seized tanker PH asks Iran to release Pinoy seaman
Patty Aguilar | 22 July, 2019, 13:37

In an audio recording of a radio exchange, an Iranian officer can be heard telling the tanker to change course.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has urged Iran to reverse the "illegal" seizure.

London has warned its ships to avoid the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint for about a third of the world's sea-borne oil. Britain, however, claimed that Iran had captured not one but two ships in the Persian Gulf.

The message from the Iranians to the Stena Impero is repeated: "If you obey, you will be safe".

Britain's junior defence minister Tobias Ellwood did not rule out the possibility of targeting Tehran with sanctions in response.

Tehran insisted that the Stena Impero's detention was in response to the capture of the Iranian tanker Grace 1 in the Strait of Gibraltar by UK Royal Marines, in what sparked tensions between Britain and Iran.

Britain says the two incidents can not be compared, asserting that Britain acted lawfully off the Gibraltar coast to prevent illegal oil shipments to Syria that would have violated European Union sanctions while Iran broke global maritime law by forcing the Stena Impero to change course and go to Iran.

"Our first and most important responsibility is to make sure we get a solution to the issue to do with the current ship, make sure other British-flagged ships are safe to operate in these waters and then look at the wider picture".

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Its crew is made up of 18 Indians, including the captain, three Russians, a Latvian and a Filipino. The Strait of Hormuz is a vital waterway through which a third of all seaborne crude oil passes.

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Video footage released by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Saturday showed a ship with the tanker's markings being surrounded by speedboats before troops in balaclavas descend onto the vessel by rope from a helicopter.

Asked about the possibility of sanctions, he said: "We are going to be looking at a series of options".

"Please confirm that you are not intending to violate global law by unlawfully attempting to board the MV Stena".

"The export of oil is one of the issues in which we have limitations and the USA and its allies have caused restrictions for us and we have to be sensitive", Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said, state media reported on Sunday.

The United States, France and Germany have condemned Iran's actions.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was quoted Sunday in the Bild newspaper as saying the seizure of the British tanker and the temporary detention of another has made the situation in the Gulf "a lot more serious and risky than it has been".

He said the country's oil exports had not been impacted so far by the recent tanker incidents in the Gulf.

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

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