Posted on July 22, 2019
It comes amid reports ministers are considering freezing Iranian assets. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to update MPs later on further measures the government will take.
On Sunday, ministers denied domestic politics meant the government had taken its “eye off the ball”. Defence minister Tobias Ellwood said it was “impossible” to escort each individual vessel and suggested more money should be invested in the Navy if Britain wanted to continue to play a role on the international stage.
A recording emerged of radio exchanges between HMS Montrose and Iranian armed forces vessels moments before the tanker was seized. Iranian vessel can be heard telling the British frigate it wants to inspect the Stena Impero for security reasons. HMS Montrose was too far away to stop the seizure.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency said the tanker was captured after it collided with a fishing boat and failed to respond to calls from the smaller craft. Mr Hunt said it was illegally seized in Omani waters and forced to sail into Bandar Abbas port in Iran.
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.
Mr Hunt said the Grace 1 was detained legally, but Iran said it was “piracy” and threatened to seize a British oil tanker in retaliation.