AP

Iran says its seizure of British ship a ‘reciprocal’ move

Jul 20, 2019, 9:21 AM
A British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero which was seized by the Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Fri...
A British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero which was seized by the Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Friday is photographed in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, Saturday, July 20, 2019. The chairman of Britain's House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee says military action to free the oil tanker seized by Iran would not be a good choice. Tom Tugendhat said Saturday it would be "extremely unwise" to seek a military solution to the escalating crisis, especially because the vessel has apparently been taken to a well-protected port. (Tasnim News Agency/via AP)
(Tasnim News Agency/via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A powerful council in Iran said Saturday the country’s seizure of a British oil tanker in the strategic Strait of Hormuz was in response to Britain’s role in impounding an Iranian supertanker two weeks earlier.

Spokesman of Iran’s Guardian Council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, was quoted in the semi-official Fars news agency saying “the rule of reciprocal action is well-known in international law” and that Iran’s moves to “confront the illegitimate economic war and seizure of oil tankers is an instance of this rule and is based on international rights.”

The council rarely comments on state matters, but when it does it is seen as a reflection of the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s views. That’s because the council works closely with Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters.

The free flow of traffic through the Strait of Hormuz is of international importance because one-fifth of all global crude exports passes through the waterway from Mideast exporters to countries around the world.

The British-flagged Stena Impero was seized by Iran on Friday evening with a crew of 23 crew aboard. None are British nationals. Maritime trackers show it was headed to a port in Saudi Arabia.

Two weeks earlier, Britain’s Royal Marines took part in the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker carrying more than 2 million barrels of Iranian crude by Gibraltar, a British overseas territory off the southern coast of Spain. Officials there initially said the July 4 seizure happened on orders from the U.S.

Britain has said it would release the vessel if Iran could prove it was not breaching European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. However, on Friday, a court in Gibraltar extended by 30 days the detention of the Panama-flagged Grace.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif characterized the seizure of Iran’s tanker as “piracy.” In comments on Twitter, he wrote that the U.K. must cease being an accessory to the “economic terrorism” of the U.S. — a reference to sweeping American sanctions on Iran.

Iran’s subsequent seizure of the British tanker was seen as a significant escalation. Germany and France have both condemned the move, with Berlin saying it undermines all efforts to find a way out of the current crisis.

In London, Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of Britain’s House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said military action to free the British tanker would be “extremely unwise,” especially because the vessel was apparently taken to a well-protected port.

Current tensions have been escalating since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and imposed economic sanctions on Iran, including its oil exports.

In May, the U.S. announced it was dispatching an aircraft carrier and additional troops to the Middle East, citing unspecified threats posed by Iran.

The ongoing showdown has caused jitters around the globe, with each maneuver bringing fear that any misunderstanding or misstep by either side could lead to war.

In June, Iran shot down an American drone in the same waterway, and Trump came close to retaliating but called off an airstrike at the last moment. Just this week, Washington claimed that a U.S. warship downed an Iranian drone in the strait. Iran denied that it lost an aircraft in the area. There have also been attacks on oil tankers in recent weeks that the U.S. blames on Iran — an allegation denied by the Islamic Republic.

Stena Bulk, the owner of the seized British tanker, said the vessel’s crew members are of Indian, Filipino, Russian and Latvian nationalities. Iranian officials say the crew remain on the tanker.

The state-run news agency IRNA had reported earlier Saturday that Iran seized the British-flagged vessel after it collided with an Iranian fishing boat — an explanation that portrayed the seizure as a technicality rather than a tit-for-tat move.

The company that owns the ship said the vessel was in full compliance with all international regulations when it was intercepted Friday by “unidentified small crafts and a helicopter” during its transit through the Strait of Hormuz.

The comments Saturday by the Guardian Council reflect how prominently Britain has featured in the rising U.S. tensions with Iran.

There was a brief standoff between the British navy and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels recently. The British navy said it warned three Guard vessels away after they tried to impede the passage of a commercial British tanker that the navy was escorting.

U.K.-flagged vessels represented less than 0.6% of the 67,533 ships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz in 2018, with 427 transits, according to maritime publication Lloyd’s List, quoting research from Russel Group.

Iran’s government has desperately tried to get out of the economic chokehold, urging the other partners in the nuclear deal, particularly European nations, to find ways around the U.S. sanctions.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is mulling a proposal called the Sentinel Program — a coalition of nations working with the U.S. to preserve maritime security in the Persian Gulf and keep eyes on Iran.

The U.S. is also sending several hundred troops as well as aircraft and air defense missiles to Iran’s rival, Saudi Arabia, as part of its increased military presence in the region. The move has been in the works for several weeks.

King Salman approved hosting U.S. armed forces in the kingdom “to increase joint cooperation in defense and regional security and stability,” a statement in the state-run Saudi Press Agency said.

 

Today’s Top Stories

AP

a small boy recieves a COVID-19 vaccine in China...
JOE McDONALD Associated Press

China eases anti-COVID measures following protests

Experts warn, however, that restrictions can’t be lifted completely until at least mid-2023 because millions of elderly people still must be vaccinated.
14 hours ago
A memorial is pictured near the scene of the Colorado shooting at Club Q...
COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press

Colorado gay club shooting suspect charged with hate crimes

Investigators say Anderson Lee Aldrich entered Club Q, a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city, just before midnight on Nov. 19.
2 days ago
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
9 days ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
11 days ago
The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
12 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Iran says its seizure of British ship a ‘reciprocal’ move