British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday that Tehran’s seizure of a tanker flying the flag of the United Kingdom revealed “worrying signs” that “Iran may have chosen a dangerous path to illegal conduct and destabilize stability”.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard said on Friday that it had seized the ship “Stina Impero” owned by Sweden in the Strait of Hormuz because it “violated international maritime bases”.
This came hours after a court in Gibraltar for 30 days the detention of the Iranian carrier Grace 1, seized two weeks ago in an operation involving the British Navy, on suspicion that it was heading to Syria to deliver oil in violation of US and European sanctions.
“The arrest of Stina Impero reveals worrying signs that Iran has chosen a dangerous route to illegal behavior and destabilizing stability after Gibraltar’s legal detention of oil destined for Syria”, Hunt said.
“Our response will be deliberate but firm.
We were trying to find a way to solve the Grace 1 issue, but we will ensure the safety of our ships”.
British Secretary of State James Brockensher said the detention of the tanker in the Strait of Hormuz was “totally unacceptable”, adding that London was still trying to make diplomatic contacts with Tehran on the issue.
“The actions of the Iranians are absolutely unacceptable”, the housing minister told BBC radio.
It is very important that we keep the freedom of navigation in the Gulf”.
“We want to solve the issue diplomatically.
The Iranians must immediately release the tanker”.
David Richards, Britain’s chief of staff between 2010 and 2013, said Britain’s options were “very limited” in terms of military steps that could be taken without allies such as the United States if economic sanctions failed to solve the problem.
“The Royal Navy, if we look at it in the first place, is too small to have a significant impact without the allies”, he told BBC radio.
Stena Impero was heading to Saudi Arabia on Friday when it hit a fishing boat, according to authorities at the port of Bandar Abbas port in southern Iran, where the ship is currently anchored.
Tom Tugendath, who heads a parliamentary foreign affairs commission, said the military option would be “unwise at all”.
“If you send the tanker to the port of Bandar Abbas, then it is an important Iranian military port and I think the military options will be totally illogical now”, he told BBC radio.