Britain fears that an oil tanker has been captured in Iranian waters
The British government said it is urgently seeking further information after the tanker was seen to have suddenly veered off course and headed into Iranian waters.
According to Iranian media, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the British oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz for “not following international maritime regulations.”
In a statement on Friday the IRGC’s Public Relations Department said that the vessel had been confiscated “at the request of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Organization when passing through the Strait of Hormuz, for failing to respect international maritime rules.”
Marine tracking data showed that the Stena Impero was enroute to Saudi Arabia but left the international sea lanes and headed north towards the Iranian island of Qeshm.
The Guardian reports: The British government said it was “assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf.”
The relatively modern 30,000 tonne boat is owned by Stena Bulk. The Ministry of Defence stressed it had ships in the area but could not provide any further details of what had happened.
The incident came on a day when the authorities in Gibraltar announced they were extending the detention of an Iranian tanker, the Grace 1, seized by Britain’s Royal Marines, on suspicion of shipping oil to Syria, in violation of an EU embargo. Iran has denounced the seizure of as an act of “piracy’.
On July 10, a British warship, the HMS Montrose, intervened to drive three Iranian military vessels that were attempting to divert a UK tanker, the British Heritage. The incident took place six days after the seizure of the Grace 1.
The incident comes in the midst of a battle of nerves along the oil export routes of the Persian Gulf, as the US rejected a nuclear offer from Iran, and instead demanded the country ceases all uranium enrichment.
Tehran denied Donald Trump’s claim, repeated on Friday, that US forces had downed a Iranian drone over the Gulf, while a Gibraltar court extended the detention of an Iranian oil tanker seized by Britain’s Royal Marines following a breakdown in talks over where its cargo was destined. Iran has denounced the seizure as “piracy”.