Iran Ups Ante in Gulf by Snatching British-flagged Tanker
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has stated on Twitter that Iran was heading down a “dangerous path” and that London would react in a “considered but robust” way after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized a British-flagged tanker. “Yesterday’s action in [the] Gulf shows worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous path of illegal and destabilizing behavior after Gibraltar’s LEGAL detention of oil bound for Syria,” Hunt tweeted on Saturday. Iran’s quasi-official FARS news agency reported that the Stena Impero, owned by the Swedish shipping firm Stena Bulk, had been taken to the Iranian port at Bandar Abbas, citing a regional maritime official who said it had collided with a fishing boat and then ignored its distress signal. Another report said the tanker, manned by a crew of 23, had been seen dumping pollutants. In his tweet, Hunt referred to the seizure of the Iranian tanker Grace 1 two weeks ago off Gibraltar, which said it believed the vessel was transporting crude from Iran to a Syrian port. Sanctions imposed on Iran by Washington ban the purchase of Iranian petroleum products, while sanctions imposed on Syria by the European Union bar that country’s import of such products. The Grace 1 was boarded and seized by British Royal Marines at the request of Gibraltar, a British territory. Tensions were already sky-high due to attacks against US allies in the Gulf that Washington has blamed on Iran or one of its proxy groups.