Britains May to Chair Sesson on Tanker 07/22 06:24
LONDON (AP) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May will chair an emergency
security session on Monday to discuss how to respond to Iran's seizure of a
British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
The meeting of security ministers and officials will discuss how to secure
shipping in the sensitive region, which is vital to the world's oil supply.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is also expected to brief Parliament on the
Friday seizure of the Stena Impero tanker, now in a heavily guarded Iranian
Britain is considering a number of options to raise the economic and
diplomatic pressure on Iran but officials say military operations are not being
considered at the moment. Britain is also seeking support from key European
allies in an effort to keep the Strait of Hormuz open to shipping.
The tanker crisis is unfolding in the final days of May's leadership. The
Conservative Party plans to name her successor Tuesday, and the new prime
minister --- either front-runner Boris Johnson or Hunt --- is expected to take
Friday's seizure came amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran
stemming from President Donald Trump's decision last year to pull the U.S. from
Iran's nuclear accord with world powers and reinstate sweeping sanctions on
Steps have been taken to prevent further incidents in the coming days while
longer range options are discussed. Maritime industry publication Lloyd's List
said there are currently no U.K.-flagged ships heading to the Persian Gulf and
eight U.K.-flagged vessels anchored there after a government advisory to such
vessels to avoid the Strait of Hormuz.
Restoring the free flow of traffic through the Strait of Hormuz is of
critical importance to the world's energy supplies because one-fifth of all
global crude exports pass through the narrow waterway between Iran and Oman.
Iranian officials say the seizure of the British oil tanker was a justified
response to Britain's role in impounding an Iranian supertanker two weeks
earlier off the coast of Gibraltar, a British overseas territory located on the
southern tip of Spain.
Britain says the two incidents cannot 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
international maritime law by forcing the Stena Impero to change course and go
Britain says the tanker was in Omani waters at the time, which Iran disputes.
As the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers unravels, the U.S. has
expanded its military presence in the region, while Iran has begun openly
exceeding the uranium enrichment levels set in the accord to try to pressure
Europe into alleviating the pain caused by the sanctions.
European nations, which are trying to save the nuclear deal and keep Iran
from isolation, have tried to come up with ways to keep trading with Iran but
have run smack Trump's sanctions
Britain is adding to its military profile in the region but it does not have
the naval resources that would be needed to protect all of its shipping
The seizure of the British-flagged tanker has proved popular inside Iran.
In Tehran, some 160 lawmakers issued a joint statement Sunday praising the
interception of the British-flagged vessel by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, which
released video of the seizure, showing Iranian commandos in black ski masks and
fatigues rappelling from a helicopter onto the vessel.
Also Sunday, an audio released by maritime security risk firm Dryad Global
shows that a British frigate was too far away from the targeted tanker to keep
it from being diverted into an Iranian port, despite U.K. efforts to keep it
from being boarded.
In the audio, a British naval officer from the HMS Montrose patrolling the
area around the Strait of Hormuz, which is at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, is
heard telling the Iranian patrol boat: "Please confirm that you are not
intending to violate international law by unlawfully attempting to board the MV
His words did nothing to deter the Iranians.
British officials say the HMS Montrose was roughly 60 minutes from the scene
when the Iranians took control of the tanker, too far away to intervene