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POST TIME: 21 July, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 20 July, 2019 11:10:44 PM
Tanker seizure shows Iran choosing ‘dangerous path’: UK
Germany, France urge release of UK-flagged tanker; India seeks release of 18 nationals
AFP, London

Tanker seizure shows Iran choosing 
‘dangerous path’: UK

This handout picture released by Tasnim News Agency yesterday, shows British-flagged tanker Stena Impero anchored in Bandar Abbas in southern Iran. The tanker is now at anchor off the port of Bandar Abbas with all its crew aboard after colliding with a fishing boat, authorities said. The Swedish-owned Stena Impero "collided with a fishing boat", said Allah-Morad Afifipoor, director-general of the Hormozgan province port and maritime organisation. AFP Photo

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said yesterday that Tehran's seizure of a UK-flagged oil tanker showed "worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous path of illegal and destabilising behaviour". Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said Friday it had seized the Swedish-owned Stena Impero in the Gulf's Strait of Hormuz for breaking "international maritime rules".

The incident came hours after a court in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar said it would extend by 30 days the detention of Grace 1, an Iranian tanker seized two weeks ago in an operation aided by British Royal Marines on allegations of breaching EU sanctions against Syria.

Hunt said on Twitter that seizing the Stena Impero showed "worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous path of illegal and destabilising behaviour after Gibraltar's LEGAL detention of oil bound for Syria.

"Our reaction will be considered but robust. We have been trying to find a way to resolve Grace 1 issue but WILL ensure the safety of our shipping."

British cabinet minister James Brokenshire said the seizure of the tanker was "completely intolerable" and said London was still seeking to establish diplomatic connections with Tehran over the incident.

"The actions of the Iranians is completely unacceptable. It is so important that we maintain this free navigation through the Gulf," the housing secretary told BBC radio. "We want to see this matter resolved in a diplomatic way. The Iranians need to release this vessel as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, Germany and France yesterday called on Iran to immediately release a British oil tanker it seized in the Strait of Hormuz.

The capture of the Swedish-owned, British-flagged Stena Impero on Friday by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was a “dangerous further aggravation of an already tense situation,” a German foreign ministry statement said.

“Such action hampers a necessary de-escalation of tensions in the Gulf region,” the French foreign ministry added. Both Germany and France condemned the taking of the Stena Impero and the seizing earlier this week of a smaller Panamanian-flagged tanker, expressing concerns for merchant shipping in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

India said yesterday it was in touch with Tehran to secure the release of 18 of its nationals serving on a British-flagged tanker seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz.

The Philippines also said it would ask Iran to free a Filipino crew member on the Swedish-owned Stena Impero which was seized on Friday, as tensions mount in a key waterway for the world’s oil supplies.

Raveesh Kumar, spokesman for India’s foreign ministry, told AFP that 18 of its nationals were on the ship and said New Delhi was “in touch with the government of Iran to secure (their) early release and repatriation”.