Iran has warned the U.K. of rising tensions between the two countries after Iranian forces seized a British oil tanker. The British oil ship was seized in the Strait of Hormuz by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and is largely seen as a reaction to Britain seizing an Iranian ship two weeks before. This incident adds to the growing tension between the two countries and emphasizes growing concerns over Iranian power in the Strait of Hormuz.
Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s envoy to Britain, wrote on Twitter, “The U.K. government should contain those domestic political forces who want to escalate existing tension between Iran and the U.K. well beyond the issue of ships. This is quite dangerous and unwise at a sensitive time in the region. Iran, however, is firm and ready for different scenarios.”
According to al Jazeera, his comments come just a day after Jeremy Hunt, the UK foreign secretary, said Iran’s actions showed “worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous path of illegal and destabilizing behavior.” Hunt has also said that Iran saw the seizing of tankers in the Strait as a “tit-for-tat situation,” following the detention of the Iranian ship Grace 1.
Richard Meade, the managing editor of the influential shipping industry publication Lloyds List, said the Stena Impero’s seizure is “probably the highest level security threat that we have seen in the region since the late 80s.”
According to CNN, the UK has also emphasized “International law requires that the right of transit passage shall not be impeded, and therefore the Iranian action constitutes illegal interference.”
The actions of Iran are concerning because they violate the international law of the right of passage as well as the fact that the seized boat is largely viewed as an act of revenge on Britain for seizing an Iranian ship not long before. Iran is escalating the dispute between the two countries through illegally seizing a British ship instead of using diplomacy, an act that has not gone unnoticed by Britain or the larger international community.
According to al Jazeera, the U.K. has continued to emphasize their desire to de-escalate the situation through diplomacy which creates hope that tensions will end.
This incident comes after the capture of an Iranian tanker by British authorities in Gibraltar two weeks ago. According to CNN News, the Iranian ship was seized due to evidence it was attempting to transport oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.
This conflict also adds to growing tensions surrounding the Strait of Hormuz, the location where the British ship was seized and an important geopolitical chokepoint. The conflict surrounding the Strait of Hormuz and who controls it has been escalating and Iranian interference in the area are causing concerns especially for the U.S. and U.K. .
The continued escalation in conflict in the Gulf by Iran is concerning, especially for the future of the Strait of Hormuz as well as the Iran nuclear deal and how Western powers interact with Iran. If Iran assists in de-escalating the conflict through returning the British ship tensions will decrease between the two countries. The U.K. government has emphasized their desire to decrease tensions in the area however it is also vital to respond to Iran’s unlawful seizure in international waters to promote safety and security in the Strait of Hormuz. Altogether, diplomacy is vital to deescalate the conflict and return to relative security in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz area.
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