Jeremy Hunt seeks EU and UN backing for stringent new sanctions against Iran after ‘illegal seizure’ of UK oil tanker
- Foreign Secretary revealed he’d had assurances last week from the Iranian FM
- He tweeted: ‘This has to be about actions not words if we are to find way through’
- Image released by Iran showed seized Stena Impero anchored in Bandar Abbas
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt ha s blasted Iran after two British oil tankers were seized in the Gulf last night
Ministers are making plans aimed at targeting Iran with sanctions in the aftermath of the Iranian seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce a range of measures targeting the Iranian regime following the seizure of the Stena Impero on Friday Afternoon.
Mr Hunt is expected to urge the European Union to support British calls for a host of diplomatic and economic sanctions to target Iran- including reimposing restrictions which were lifted after Tehran signed the 2016 nuclear deal.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hunt would also seek UN support to target Iran.
Already Mr Hunt has spoken to Iran’s foreign minister and said he wants to de-escalate the current tensions.
Mr Hunt revealed he’d had assurances last week from the Iranian foreign minister that Iran wanted to de-escalate tensions
He tweeted: ‘Just spoke to Iranian FM Zarif and expressed extreme disappointment that having assured me last Sat Iran wanted to de-escalate situation they have behaved in the opposite way.
‘This has to be about actions not words if we are to find a way through. British shipping must & will be protected.’
Mr Hunt’s comment come after Tehran released footage of the captured tanker docked at a port in southern Iran.
An image released by the Iran Students News Agency (ISNA), which is partially funded by the country’s Government, claimed to show the seized Stena Impero anchored at port in in Bandar Abbas.
At around 11am on Saturday, the ISNA shared the photo on Twitter and said crew members may be summoned for ‘technical questioning’.
The Stena Impero oil tanker was seized by Iranian authorities while passing through the Strait of Hormuz yesterday. An image released by a Government-funded Iranian news outlet claims to show the seized British tanker Stena Impero anchored in southern Iran
The Stena Impero was surrounded by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces at 4pm and ordered to head north. The British registered vessel switched off its maritime tracker a short time later. A second British vessel, Medsar, abruptly changed course towards Iran around 4.45pm
The seizures are thought to be in retaliation for the detention of the Iranian Grace 1 tanker by UK forces earlier this month.
The Royal Navy has since deployed frigate HMS Montrose to the Gulf and destroyer HMS Duncan is on her way to join her.
HMS Montrose, which is patrolling the Persian Gulf, raced towards the scene after the British-flagged tanker diverted from its planned course.
Fears were raised that Iranian authorities were trying to seize a UK ship in retaliation for the detention of the Grace 1 tanker.
The Iranian ship was detained off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4. The Foreign Office claiming it had violated EU sanctions by carrying a cargo of crude oil destined for Syria.
But there was no statement from the office of the European External Action Service, the body responsible for conducting EU’s foreign and security policy.
There is also no precedent of shipments of oil to Syria being impounded, which prompted Spain to accuse the UK of acting under the instruction of the US.
The US is trying to freeze all Iranian oil exports to force the country into reopen talks on the nuclear deal signed in 2015, which America pulled out of last year.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the tanker’s seizure an act of ‘piracy’ on Tuesday and warned the UK to expect a response.
The ship’s captain, chief officer and two second officers were arrested and bailed and an investigation is ongoing.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt offered to help release Grace 1 if Iran guaranteed it would not breach sanctions imposed on Bashar Assad’s regime.