British, Iran tensions rise over seized tankers in the Gulf

Britain rejected the idea that it could release a Iranian tanker in exchange for a British-flagged vessel seized by the Islamic Republic in the Gulf.

By REUTERS
July 29, 2019 12:05
2 minute read.
Dominic Raab is seen at the Foreign and Commonwealth building after being appointed as the Foreign S

Dominic Raab is seen at the Foreign and Commonwealth building after being appointed as the Foreign Secretary by Britain's new Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London, Britain. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Britain on Monday warned Iran that if it wants to "come of the dark" then it must follow international rules and release a British-flagged vessel seized by the Islamic republic in the Gulf.

"If the Iranians want to come of the dark and be accepted as a responsible member of the intentional community they need to adhere to rules-based system of the international community," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News.

"You cannot go about detaining unlawfully foreign vessels."

Britain rejected the idea that it could release a Iranian tanker in exchange for a British-flagged vessel seized by the Islamic republic in the Gulf.

"There is no quid pro quo," Raab told BBC radio. "This is not about some kind of barter. This is about the international law and the rules of the international legal system being upheld and that is what we will insist on."

Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) published footage on Monday purportedly showing the IRGC warning off a British warship during their July 19 seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz.

Iranian commandos seized British-flagged tanker Stena Impero in the world's most important waterway for oil shipments, two weeks after British forces captured an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar, accused of violating sanctions on Syria.

The video, published by the semi-official Tasnim news agency, contains footage of the capture of the tanker, showing Guards abseiling onto the deck from a helicopter, with the audio recording superimposed.

"You are required not to interfere in these issues," the IRGC navy representative says.

"This is British warship foxtrot two three six," a voice with a British accent replies. "I am in the vicinity of an internationally recognized strait with a merchant vessel in my vicinity conducting transit passage." 

"Don't put your life in danger," the IRGC representative says.

The video also contains an exchange between the IRGC and the same British warship during a stand-off in mid-July involving the British Heritage oil tanker, according to Tasnim.

Three Iranian vessels attempted to block the passage of a ship, the British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz, but withdrew after warnings from a British warship, the British government said on July 11.

Britain last week started sending a warship to accompany all British-flagged vessels through the Strait of Hormuz, a change in policy announced on Thursday after the government previously said it did not have resources to do so.


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