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The Revolutionary Guard of Iran published a video showing motorboats approaching the tanker Stena Impero. It is also seen how soldiers equipped with balaclavas and armed with machine guns came down to the deck from a helicopter
Geneva. The United Kingdom on Saturday condemned the seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Persian Gulf as a “hostile act”, rejecting Iran’s explanation that it captured the vessel because it was involved in an accident.
Revolutionary Guards of Iran released a video on the Internet showing speedboats approaching the tanker Stena Impero, whose name is clearly visible.
Soldiers equipped with balaclavas and armed with machine guns descended to the deck from a helicopter, the same tactic used by the British Royal Navy to seize an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar two weeks ago.
Friday’s action, on the world’s most important sea route for the oil trade, has been seen in the West as an escalation after three months of a dispute that has brought Iran and the United States to the brink of war.
The incident came after weeks in which Tehran threatened reprisals for the seizure of the Iranian tanker Grace 1, accused of violating the sanctions against Syria.
British Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt called the incident a “hostile act,” while Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he expressed “extreme disappointment” to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a telephone call. The United Kingdom also convened the Iranian business manager in London.
France and Germany joined the United Kingdom in condemning the capture.
Brigadier-General Ramezan Sharif, a spokesman for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said Tehran seized the ship in the Strait of Hormuz despite the “resistance and interference” of a British warship escorting him. There were no British warships visible in the video posted by the Iranian force.
Iranian news agency Fars said the Revolutionary Guard took control of the Stena Impero on Friday, after it hit an Iranian fishing boat and ignored its distress calls.
The tanker, which did not carry cargo, was taken to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. He will remain there with his 23 crewmembers – 18 of them of Indian nationality – while the accident is being investigated, Iranian news agencies quoted the head of the Maritime and Port Organization of the southern province of Hormozgan, Allahmorad Afifipour.
Zarif told Hunt that the ship must go through the legal process before it can be released, the Iranian news agency ISNA reported.
The Strait, between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula, is the only transit route for the majority of Middle East oil exports, and the fact made oil prices rise sharply.
The United States, which tightened its sanctions on Iran in May with the aim of curbing its hydrocarbon exports, has warned for months about Iranian threats to cross-strait transport.
Source: El Comercio