Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops wearing ski masks are seen on board a helicopter flying over the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero near the Strait of Hormuz on Friday. Photo: WANA/Reuters TV via REUTRS.
world

UK calls seizure of ship a hostile act; Iran releases video of capture

35 Comments
By Babak Dehghanpisheh and William Schomberg

Britain denounced the Iranian seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf as a "hostile act" on Saturday, rejecting Tehran's explanation that it had seized the vessel because it had been involved in an accident.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards posted a video online showing speedboats pulling up alongside the Stena Impero tanker, its name clearly visible.

Troops wearing ski masks and carrying machine guns rappelled to its deck from a helicopter, the same tactics used by British Royal Marines to seize an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar two weeks ago.

Friday's action in the global oil trade's most important waterway has been viewed in the West as a major escalation after three months of confrontation that has already taken Iran and the United States to the brink of war.

It follows weeks of threats from Tehran to retaliate for Britain's seizure of the Iranian tanker Grace 1, accused of violating sanctions on Syria.

British Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt called the incident a "hostile act". Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had expressed "extreme disappointment" by phone to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. Britain also summoned the Iranian charge d'affaires in London.

A spokesman for Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Brigadier-General Ramezan Sharif, said Tehran had seized the ship in the Strait of Hormuz despite the "resistance and interference" of a British warship which had been escorting it. No British warship was visible in the video posted by the Guards.

Iran's Fars news agency said the Guards had taken control of the Stena Impero on Friday after it collided with an Iranian fishing boat whose distress call it ignored.

The vessel, carrying no cargo, was taken to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. It would remain there with its 23 crew -- 18 of them Indians -- while the accident was investigated, Iranian news agencies quoted the head of Ports and Maritime Organisation in southern Hormozgan province, Allahmorad Afifipour, as saying.

Zarif told Britain's Hunt that the ship must go through a legal process before it could be released, Iran's ISNA news agency reported.

The strait, between Iran and the Arabian peninsula, is the sole outlet for exports of most Middle Eastern oil, and the seizure sent oil prices sharply higher. The United States, which tightened sanctions against Iran in May with the aim of halting its oil exports altogether, has been warning for months of an Iranian threat to shipping in the strait.

Another oil tanker, the Mesdar, was also boarded by Iranian personnel on Friday and temporarily forced to divert towards Iran, but later was allowed to continue on its route through the strait. On Saturday Algeria's APS news agency said the Mesdar was owned by Algeria's state oil company Sonatrach.

France, Germany and the European Union joined Britain in condemning the seizure.

The three big European countries are signatories to a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that Washington undermined by quitting last year, setting Iran's already fragile relations with the West on a downward spiral.

Under the pact, Iran agreed to restrict nuclear work in return for lifting sanctions. The European countries opposed the Trump administration's decision to abandon the agreement last year, but have so far failed to fulfill promises to Iran of providing alternative means for it to access world trade.

"Just spoke to ... Zarif and expressed extreme disappointment that having assured me last Saturday Iran wanted to de-escalate situation, they have behaved in the opposite way," tweeted British Foreign Secretary Hunt. "This has to be about actions not words if we are to find a way through."

Earlier he said London's reaction would be "considered but robust", and it would ensure the safety of its shipping.

On Friday, Hunt said the solution would be found via diplomacy and London was "not looking at military options." Britain's government said it had advised British shipping to stay out of the Hormuz area for an interim period.

The past three months of escalation have seen the United States and Iran come as close as ever to direct armed conflict. In June, Tehran shot down a U.S. drone and Trump ordered retaliatory air strikes, only to call them off just minutes before impact.

In New Delhi, India's foreign ministry said it was actively seeking the release of its nationals among the crew.

Operator Stena Bulk said on Friday the tanker had been "in full compliance with all navigation and international regulations". On Saturday it said it was preparing a request to visit the crew.

The vessel had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia and suddenly changed course after passing through the strait.

The United States has blamed Iran for a series of attacks on shipping around the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran rejects the allegations. Washington also said it had this week downed an Iranian drone near where the Stena Impero was seized.

The United States is sending military personnel and resources to Saudi Arabia for the first time since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

35 Comments
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The strait, between Iran and the Arabian peninsula, is the sole outlet for exports of most Middle Eastern oil, and the seizure sent oil prices sharply higher. 

I do not bloody care those senseless diplomatic conflicts between politicians of different countries. However, leave the bloody oil alone! Billions of motorists all over the world re not very happy now.!

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Thanks trump the world was at peace with Iran until you came in and mucked it all up.

What would you expect? The U.S. drooling for provocation to justify military action perhaps? 

Trump's hawks -- Bolton, Miller, Pompeo, etc. -- are just itching for a real fight, yet Trump proclaims no desire for another war. Meanwhile, crickets from Congressional Republicans as usual.

6 ( +14 / -8 )

Trump's hawks -- Bolton, Miller, Pompeo, etc. -- are just itching for a real fight, 

and the big war industries are drooling at the prospect of US taxpayers (with the exception of the wealthiest who are paying less thanks to Trump and the GOP) paying even more so big war's profits will further increase.

The global oil corporations, their financial backers, the big war industries and the politicians they've bought are keeping the world hooked on oil and gas. Until we start burning less, conserve electricity and find lower impact energy alternatives...

Well, at least the baby boom generation had a good life.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

By the same token, British Marines seizing an Iranian freighter 2 weeks ago at gunpoint is also a hostile act.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

@yoshi

wtf?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

'Iran's seizure of British oil tanker a hostile act' - but 'Britain's seizure of an Iranian oil tanker' (which started all of this) isn't 'a hostile act'...even though Iran isn't in the EU and isn't subjected to EU sanctions. Once again us Brits suck American plonkers and do whatever they tell us - even though it puts us in danger. How many British soldiers died in Iraq for America on the pretext of 'weapons of mass destruction?' Too many. I wish we'd tell the yanks to go 'do one' instead of bending over backwards and taking it up the jacksie time and time again. I'm fed up being America's whore. If America has a problem with Iran, sort it out yourself. I truly long for a British PM that will finally tell the yanks to sod off and do their own dirty work.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

How many British soldiers died in Iraq for America

How many US Merchant Marines and military personnel died for Britain during WWII? Also, at the risk of having this post removed, the British Empire mucked up countries in the Middle East and elsewhere long before US involvement in the areas.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

wtf?

Just an angry rant. I drive everyday and the petrol price has gone crazy in recent years.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yep.. The US pulled out of the deal and engaged in economic warfare and now Iran's Revolutionary Guard is responding.

Entirely predictable. I'm sure Trump has planned for this inevitable outcome.

Hhahahhaahhahahah hahaha haha hahaha.

He has no plan.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

No worries, these are the same uber-friendly, super helpful chaps that were trying to offer assistance to the Japanese ships that were attacked not that long ago.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

If America has a problem with Iran, sort it out yourself. I truly long for a British PM that will finally tell the yanks to sod off and do their own dirty work.

I wish Japan will someday get a PM that has the confidence to do the same.

I’m American but I think the US needs some tough love from friends at this point - definitely not support and encouragement. That’s what real friends are for.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The Iranian government are unable to control the Revolutionary Guard. It will up the stakes each time. They are happy to go to war with America. The Supreme Leader of Iran needs to pull back on his wild dogs.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

I drive a car that's very happy to drink truck diesel. Pay only 109JPY per litre and use about 7-10 litres/100km

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Thanks trump the world was at peace with Iran until you came in and mucked it all up.

So Iran’s funding of Hamas, Hezbollah, and various other terrorist groups across the region partly with the money the Obama administration gave the Mullahs is analogous to a world at peace with Iran? Why the blind support for a known terrorist state? You can’t possibly hate Trump that much.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

@Wolfpack

So Iran’s funding of Hamas, Hezbollah, and various other terrorist groups across the region partly with the money the Obama administration gave the Mullahs is analogous to a world at peace with Iran? Why the blind support for a known terrorist state? You can’t possibly hate Trump that much.

Saudi Arabia—not Iran—is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world today and Wahhabism remains the source of most radical Islamic extremism. For years Iran has borne the unenviable title of “world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism.” However, out of the 61 groups that are designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department, the overwhelming majority are Wahhabi-inspired and Saudi-funded groups, with a focus on the West and Iran as their primary enemy. Only two are Shi’a—Hezbollah and Kataib Hezbollah, and only four have ever claimed to receive support from Iran. Nearly all of the Sunni militant groups listed receive significant support from either the Saudi government or Saudi citizens.

Where is your outrage about Saudi Arabia and Dump's close and supportive relationship with Saudi Arabia? Seems a little hypocritical!

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Whatever your feelings, you have to admit that the Iranian action very efficiently sends a lot of different messages to a lot of different countries.

To Britain and the US, it sends a message of 'we're not just going to take it and wait decades for a court decision to say you were wrong'

To the EU, it sends a message of 'we can find excuses to disrupt your economies if you don't keep your promise to keep the US from disrupting ours'

To China, Japan, India etc it sends a message of 'we can close the Gulf to some shipping, while keeping it open to others', something that the US CANNOT do.

And to Russia and every other country that has stood up to American bullying recently, it sends a message of 'me, too'

7 ( +9 / -2 )

@Wolfpack

Not to mention......the 9/11 mastermind and most of the attackers came from Saudi Arabia.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

It is a hostile act and Iran has pretty much confessed to the hostile act. That is now on the table.

Hopefully this can be resolved without requiring another damn warn.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"The Iranians really are on borrowed time taking this kind of action,"

Here we go again! America, the biggest, the best, the mightiest. America will annihilate, destroy, flatten. But at what cost to America? How many  American lives will it take? With or without " boots on the ground" how many Americans will die? Does anybody think Iran will not retaliate if the US starts air strikes? It easy to be brave as an armchair worrier.

If hostilities between the US and Iran occur, how many American servicemen will be on "borrowed time"? It will not be all one way.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Iranians seizing the tanker at gunpoint in a " hostile act" is the predictable response to Brits seizing an Iranian tanker at gunpoint 2 weeks ago , which of course was " justified action" somehow and not a hostile act ,.... naturally.

The Iranians waited for the promised release of their tanker and when few days ago Brits announced that will be delayed by weeks due to " legal reasons" , they responded. If the neocon warmongers didnt nudge Trump to rip up the agreement none of this would be happening.

@San Miguel...good post, .on the point.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Here we go again! America, the biggest, the best, the mightiest. America will annihilate, destroy, flatten.

There is no war and as long as Iran stops doing what it is doing, the mullahs have nothing to worry about.

But at what cost to America? How many American lives will it take?

With the technology we have, we don’t need boots on the ground, those days are over.

With or without " boots on the ground" how many Americans will die? Does anybody think Iran will not retaliate if the US starts air strikes?

It makes a huge difference if boots are on the ground or not, of course they can retaliate and probably will bring but the Pentagon and the Israelis have countermeasures for that as well.

If hostilities between the US and Iran occur, how many American servicemen will be on "borrowed time"? It will not be all one way.

Not like the Iranians by far, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to this. The problem is not the country or it’s people, the problem rests with the mullahs.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

It is a hostile act and Iran has pretty much confessed to the hostile act. That is now on the table.

Hopefully this can be resolved without requiring another damn warn.

I agree.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

With the technology we have, we don’t need boots on the ground, those days are over.

How many boots on three ground in Afghanistan nearly 20 years later?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I drive a car that's very happy to drink truck diesel. Pay only 109JPY per litre and use about 7-10 litres/100km

Thanks for this massive non-sequitar.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Awesome post san miguel, calling it like it is. No deflecting blame, no "but it's Trump's/the EU's fault" excuses etc. We need more Brits/posters like you on JT!!

Have noticed that many/most long term 'expats' (in Japan/SEA & esp on a site like jt) tend to be touchy & defensive about their own country. Always the first to criticize/blame/ridicule others though.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Iran’s tanker was carrying oil to Syria. There must be huge internal pressure to complete that delivery. The Russians will be chuckling at Iran’s loss of face inside Syria.

More than the tanker though, is surely the issue of the blockage of that last possible waterway. Iran cannot use the Gulf, or the Red Sea - Suez Canal, and their overland pipeline is not completed, so they gambled on using the Straits of Gibraltar.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It is a hostile act and Iran has pretty much confessed to the hostile act.

Is it any less hostile than the UK's action against the Iranian ship?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Is it any less hostile than the UK's action against the Iranian ship?

Seems to be a subtle difference. The Grace 1 was carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions against that country. The British ship was empty and heading in international waters to a Saudi port when it was under false pretenses forcibly diverted from her course.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

@presto

Seems to be a subtle difference. The Grace 1 was carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions against that country. 

Logic would tell you that Iran is not a member of the EU and neither is Syria, so they are not bound by any EU sanctions. So what laws were the Iranians violating?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Logic would tell you that Iran is not a member of the EU and neither is Syria, so they are not bound by any EU sanctions. So what laws were the Iranians violating?

Isn't that what the Brexiteers have been shouting from the rooftops? No more EU, no more binding to EU laws and sanctions. Why are non-White countries still bound to follow Western European and American rules?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

As I said before, if Iran through it's own Proxy network unleashes an attack upon the US, using Nuclear material it produced, then... God help us all, as Trump will wipe them out.

Russia, needs to do so serious behind the scenes negotiating in order to avoid creating a Global catastrophe in such a situation.

So, for the rest of us... where will be the safest place in the World to move to ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Silvafan: Where is your outrage about Saudi Arabia and Dump's close and supportive relationship with Saudi Arabia? Seems a little hypocritical!

I am by no means a Saudi Arabia fan. Wahhabism is a sick ideology. I disagree about the level of state sponsorship of terrorism between Iran and Saudi Arabia. For the Saudi’s much is from wealthy individuals. The Iranians use taxpayer funds to kill Israelis and American soldiers with IED’s. But this article is about Iran. I’ll slam Saudi Arabia more when there is an article about that tyrannical nation.

And who is Dump? One of John Brennan’s spies seeking to overturn the 2016 election? Or was that Joseph Mifsud?

Not to mention......the 9/11 mastermind and most of the attackers came from Saudi Arabia.

Yes. And Iran continues to be a state sponsor of terrorism.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

With the technology we have, we don’t need boots on the ground, those days are over.

If this were remotely correct, we wouldn't have boots in the ground anywhere today because we would have employed this magical technology.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And who is Dump? One of John Brennan’s spies seeking to overturn the 2016 election? Or was that Joseph Mifsud?

Yeah, who is Dump? Let's put our intellect into overdrive to see if we can't figure it out. Let's start by considering the family name if Donny. Next, let's dispel the right wing conspiracy that Brennan has spies that are trying to overturn the 2016 election.

Hmmm . . . Whoever is this Dump person? Man, I am getting a headache from trying to figure this out. Can anyone help?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Logic would tell you that Iran is not a member of the EU and neither is Syria, so they are not bound by any EU sanctions.

Total bull.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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