Iran tanker seizure: May to chair emergency meeting on crisis
Prime Minister Theresa May’s office has said the former will hold a meeting of Britain’s emergency committee on Monday to discuss Iran’s seizure of a UK-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf.
“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 spokeswoman said on Sunday.
Iranian authorities impounded the Stena Impero with 23 crew members aboard off the port of Bandar Abbas after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized it Friday in the highly sensitive Strait of Hormuz.
The seizure of the Stena Impero comes two weeks after Royal Marines helped seize Iranian tanker Grace 1 off Gibraltar, because of evidence it was carrying oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.
Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted on Saturday that the UK “must cease being an accessory to #EconomicTerrorism of the US”. He said that Iran guarantees the security of the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, and insisted its action was to “uphold international maritime rules”.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was illegally seized in Omani waters and forced to sail into Bandar Abbas port in Iran.
Hunt further spoke to his French and German counterparts over the seized tanker issue. Both ministers agreed with the foreign secretary that safe passage for vessels through the Strait of Hormuz is a top priority for European nations while avoiding any possible escalation.
The Stena Impero is still being held in the port of Bandar Abbas, in southern Iran.
The tanker’s Swedish owner, Stena Bulk, has made a formal request to visit the 23 crew members, who are Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino.