Foreign Office ‘urgently investigating’ Iran claims over seized tanker

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The Foreign Office is “urgently seeking” further information after Iran claimed to have seized a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

Owners of the Stena Impero have confirmed the vessel was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz at around 4pm UK time.

A statement from the ship’s owner and management firm said it was “in international waters”.

Foreign Office 'urgently investigating' Iran claims over seized tanker
Image:
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard told state TV it seized the vessel File pic: Stena Bulk

It added: “We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran.

“There are 23 seafarers aboard. There have been no reported injuries and their safety is of primary concern to both owners and managers.

“The priority of both vessel owner Stena Bulk and ship manager Northern Marine Management is the safety and welfare of the crew.”

Foreign Office 'urgently investigating' Iran claims over seized tanker
Image:
The tanker’s owner said the vessel was in international waters

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard told state TV they had seized the Stena Impero for “violating international maritime rules”.

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Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was “extremely concerned” by the seizure of the British-flagged vessel and a Liberian-flagged vessel.

“These seizures are unacceptable. It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region,” he added.

It comes after the Iranian tanker, Grace 1, was seized on 4 July off the coast of Gibraltar for trying to take oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

Following the operation, led by a team of Royal Marines, Iran threatened to seize a British tanker in retaliation.

Just days later a Royal Navy warship deterred Iranian patrol boats attempting to impede a British tanker sailing through the Strait of Hormuz, leading the government to deploy a second vessel to the region.

US President Donald Trump has announced he will discuss the situation with the British government.

“We will talk to the UK and we have no written agreement but we have an agreement. They’ve been a very great ally of ours.

“They will have a new prime minister soon, which is a good thing, and we will be working with the UK – but we have no written agreement, but I think we have an agreement which is longstanding.”

And National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis, said: “This is the second time in just over a week the UK has been the target of escalatory violence by the Iranian regime.

“The US will continue to work with our allies and partners to defend our security and interests against Iran’s malign behaviour.”

On Thursday, Mr Trump said an American warship shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz – something denied by Iranian military officials.

Last month, Mr Trump said he had made a last-minute decision to call off air strikes in retaliation for the shooting down by Iran of an unmanned US drone.