After a crisis meeting chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May and consultations with its European allies, the UK is scheduled to announce on Monday its response to Iran’s arrest of the British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
“The ship was seized under false pretenses and illegal and the Iranians should release him immediately with his crew,” the spokesman of the leader told reporters.
“We are not seeking a confrontation with Iran, but to seize a ship that is doing legitimate business by internationally recognized shipping is unacceptable,” he said, adding that the operation fueled escalating tensions. in the Gulf.
For his part, the spokesman of the Iranian government, Ali Rabii, said Monday that the seizure of the tanker “was a legal measure” necessary to “ensure regional security.”
This crisis comes in a very delicate political context for the British, since Theresa May, who failed to implement the Brexit, will leave office Wednesday.
The head of the Conservative government chaired since 0930 GMT an interministerial crisis meeting at Downing Street, during which will be addressed including the issue of “maintaining the safety of navigation in the Gulf.”
Candidate for the succession of May, the head of the British diplomacy Jeremy Hunt should inform Parliament on Monday of the “measures” that the United Kingdom intends to take.
Hunt held talks on Sunday with his French and German counterparts, with whom he agreed that “the safe passage of ships into the Strait of Hormuz is a top priority for European countries,” according to the Foreign Office.
Asked by the BBC on asset freezes, Finance Minister Philip Hammond said: “We already have a wide range of sanctions against Iran, especially financial sanctions, so it’s not clear that there are other immediate things we can do, but of course we are looking at all the options. ”
Owned by a Swedish shipowner, the tanker Stena Impero was boarded Friday by the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic, on the grounds that he did not respect the “international maritime code”, a version challenged by the British.
The vessel and its 23 crew members are held off the port of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran.
His arrest took place a few hours after the decision of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar, the British territory located in the extreme south of Spain, to extend for 30 days the detention of an Iranian tanker, the Grace 1. This tanker, suspected of wanting to deliver crude to Syria – which Tehran denies – in violation of European sanctions, was seized on July 4 by British forces.