Posted On 19 Jul 2019
TEHRAN — A British oil tanker was seized and being guided toward Iran in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday by Iranian forces, according to a U.S. official.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said in a statement that the tanker was seized for “violating international regulations.”
“On Friday a British tanker by the name of Stena Impero while passing through the Strait of (Hormuz) was seized by the IRGC due to violating international regulations,” the Guard said in a statement. “After it was seized it was transferred to Iranian shores to undergo legal procedure.”
The tanker’s owner, Stena Bulk, and Northern Marine Management, confirmed in a statement the vessel was moving toward Iran. There were no reported injuries among the 23 people aboard.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have intensified in recent weeks after U.S. officials accused the Middle Eastern nation of a “blatant assault” on two burning tankers in the Gulf of Oman in June. Iranian officials denied any involvement in the attack on the tankers.
The National Security Council spokesperson, Garrett Marquis, said in a statement Friday that it was aware of the Stena Impero’s seizure.
“This is the second time in just over a week the U.K. has been the target of escalatory violence by the Iranian regime,” Marquis said. “The U.S. will continue to work with our allies and partners to defend our security and interests against Iran’s malign behavior.”
The British tanker’s seizure comes just a day after the Guard seized a foreign oil tanker and accused 12 crew members of smuggling oil. Senior U.S. officials also said that U.S. Marines jammed an Iranian drone in the Gulf of Hormuz on Thursday, bringing it down and destroying it.
The Guard said it shot down a U.S. surveillance drone last month. Iranian officials said they shot down the unmanned aircraft after it entered Iranian airspace, but the United States has disputed that and said it was in international airspace above the Strait of Hormuz.
U.S. and British officials accused several Iranian boats of attempting to impede a British commercial vessel sailing through the Strait of Hormuz on July 10, though Iranian officials denied any encounters with the boat.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in an interview with NBC Nightly News’ Lester Holt on Monday that the door is “wide open” to diplomacy if President Donald Trump removes the array of sanctions he has imposed since 2017 that have slashed the country’s oil exports and damaged its economy.
“Once those sanctions are lifted, then … the room for negotiation is wide open,” Zarif said during a visit to New York for a United Nations conference.
Zarif said he did not think the two countries were on the verge of war, saying neither his government nor Trump were seeking armed conflict.
“I do not believe that President Trump wants war. But I believe that people are around him who wouldn’t mind,” Zarif said.
Arouzi reported from Tehran, Kube from Aspen, Colo., and Madani from New York.