Tankers Seized by Iran, Raising Tension with UK
Tensions with Iran are escalating after the US knocked down an Iranian drone on Thursday, July 18. Then Iran said on Friday they seized two British oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz – one of which was later released. Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized the British-flagged tanker and a Liberian-flagged tanker for violating ‘international maritime rules’. The Revolutionary Guards’ official website Sepahnews said Friday that the Stena Impero tanker “was confiscated… for failing to respect international maritime rules.” The government is investigating reports the Stena Impero, which is registered in the UK, has been seized in the Persian Gulf. According to the tanker tracking website-Marine Traffic, the ship was last signaled its location near Larak island at 9:00 PM local time (1630 GMT). Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management, the owner of the vessel, confirmed, “A UK registered vessel Stena Impero was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters. We are presently unable to contact the vessel, which is now heading north towards Iran.” Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that there would be serious consequences if the situation was not resolved quickly. “These seizures are unacceptable. It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region,” Hunt said. The British owner of the second tanker named Mesdar, said that the armed personnel temporarily boarded the ship, but was free to leave and that all crewmembers were “safe and well.” Hours before the latest incidents, the United States President Donald Trump said on Friday that the Iranian drone had knocked down by the US military, which was threatening a US naval vessel in the Hormuz Strait despite denials from Iran’s capital, Tehran. Strait of Hormuz is a strait between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf through which about a third of the world’s oil is transported. Talking about the drone attack, the Islamic Republic said that it did not own the drone, and the U.S. may have shot down one of its own. Meanwhile, the price of oil moved higher after the reports of tanker seizure.