The UK Foreign Office has urged British-flagged vessels to avoid the Strait of Hormuz following the seizure of Stena Impero by Iran on July 19.
The UK government has raised ISPS Code Security Level for British-flagged ships in the Strait of Hormuz to level 3.
The government also plans to introduce further measures.
On Friday, the Iranian authorities boarded and seized the Swedish tanker flying the UK flag in Omani waters. The 46,575 cbm ship was then instructed to sail to the Iranian Port of Bandar Abbas.
The British government held a ministerial Cabinet Officer Briefing Rooms (COBR) meeting on July 20, reaffirming the UK’s desire to deescalate the situation. The officials also discussed how they can guarantee the security of British and international shipping.
Describing the seizure as “totally and utterly unacceptable”, the UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said, “The Stena Impero was seized in Omani waters in clear contravention of international law.”
Iran said it captured the vessel for breaching international maritime law, as Stena Impero turned off its tracker and ignored several warnings issued by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). According to Iranian Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO), the ship was also releasing oil residues from its tanks.
Earlier this month, the UK and Gibraltar forces jointly detained the Iranian tanker Grace 1 as it was allegedly carrying crude oil to Syria, breaching EU sanctions against this country.
However, Iran described the tanker arrest as unlawful as the country is not a member of the European Union and not subject to its sanctions.
After having a conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Saturday, Hunt said, ” … it’s clear from talking to him and also statements made by Iran that they see this as a tit-for-tat situation, following Grace 1 being detained in Gibraltar. Nothing could be further from the truth. Grace 1 was detained legally in Gibraltarian waters because it was carrying oil against EU sanctions, to Syria, and that’s why Gibraltarian authorities acted totally with respect to due process and totally within the law.”
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