Gov't working on release of Filipino seafarer after Iran seized tanker

Clay Curtis
July 22, 2019

Iranian Ambassador to London Hamid Baeidinejad has called on the British government to contain those who want to escalate Tehran-London tensions.

"Oil tankers and export of oil is one of the issues in which we have limitations and the USA and its allies have caused restrictions for us and we have to be sensitive", the Iranian oil ministry's SHANA news agency quoted him as saying.

Britain has denounced Iran's Friday seizure of the oil tanker as a "hostile act", rejecting Tehran's explanation that it had seized the vessel because it had been involved in an accident.

"As well as receiving the latest updates from ministers and officials, the. meeting will discuss the maintenance of the security of shipping in the Persian Gulf", a Downing Street spokesperson said on Sunday, cited by AFP. "This is quite risky and unwise at a sensitive time in the region", Iran's envoy to Britain Hamid Baeidinejad said on Twitter.

On Saturday, local outlets reported that the British government was drawing up plans to target Iran with sanctions in response to the Islamic Republic's detainment of the British tanker. The Iranians, in turn, said that they intended "no challenge" and needed to inspect the vessel for "security reasons".

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, however condemned the move, saying it violates freedom of navigation.

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The release Sunday of an audio recording has shed new light on the seizure of a British-flagged tanker at the hands of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as tensions flare in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

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.

"Iran is displaying its power without entering a military confrontation", the official said.

The US administration reimposed tough sanctions on Iran, which retaliated by increasing its enrichment of uranium beyond limits set in the nuclear accord.

Tehran has been at loggerheads with Washington since May 2018, when president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from a landmark 2015 deal putting curbs on Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, Britain said the Stena Impero was approached by Iranian forces in Omani territorial waters, where it was exercising its lawful right of passage, and the action "constitutes illegal interference".

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