Monday, 25 October 2021

Theresa May to hold emergency meeting on seized oil tanker

Credit: PA Images

LONDON: Outgoing UK Prime Minister Theresa May will hold a meeting of Britain’s emergency committee on Monday to discuss Iran’s seizure of a UK-flagged oil tanker, AFP reported, citing May’s office.

“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 spokesperson said on Sunday, cited by AFP.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt may soon announce sanctions on Iran, including a freezing of Tehran assets, in response to the seizure of the UK-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero.

The UK government reportedly had an emergency meeting on Saturday to discuss protections for ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

The Iranian military on Friday seized UK-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz over what Tehran describes as a breach of international maritime regulations. The vessel, with 23 crew members, including three Russian nationals, has been guided to the port of Bandar Abbas. Although the tanker crew has reportedly been out of contact, Iran claims that they are safe and that the tanker is docked in port.

Ties between Iran and the United Kingdom soured after UK Marines assisted in the seizure of an Iranian supertanker with a suspected oil cargo for Syria off Gibraltar on 4 July. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused London of piracy following the seizure.

The situation is exacerbated as the United Kingdom is one of the signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as Iran nuclear deal.

On 8 May 2018, Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the JCPOA and imposed several consecutive rounds of economic sanctions on Iran.

A year later, Tehran announced that it would partially suspend obligations under the deal and gave the other signatories – France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and the European Union – 60 days to save the accord by facilitating oil exports and trade with Iran. As the deadline expired, Iran said it would begin enriching uranium beyond the 3.67 percent level, set in the JCPOA, warning that it would gradually abandon its nuclear commitments every 60 days.

The Strait of Hormuz is a vital waterway through which a third of all seaborne crude oil passes. London has threatened Tehran with a robust response to the detention of the UK-flagged tanker.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has warned the United Kingdom against being dragged into a war by US and regional hawks.

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