Iran has seized a British-registered oil tanker with 23 crew in the Strait of Hormuz. A second British-owned vessel is also feared to have been captured by Iranian forces.
As we have been telling you for some time now, tensions in the gulf are rapidly coming to a head, and that head may just well explode this weekend as the United States weighs its options in how to respond to the illegal seizure of the British-registered oil tanker the Stena Impero. President Trump called off a strike a few weeks ago, but may have no choice now but to issue a military response to the open and naked aggression of Iran.
By now it is obvious to anyone paying attention to escalating events in the Persian Gulf that Iran very much wants to draw the United States into a military conflict, the only question is why. One reason may be to get the sanctions lifted, another reason may be to give their buddy Russia a chance to get involved in the action. The Russian military has been doing a lot of aggressive flybys to both the US and UK navies in recent months, and they too seem itching for a fight. These moves are known as a ‘simulated attack profile‘ are quite often are a prelude to open conflict.
President Trump will need to have a forceful military response to Iran’s seizure of the Stena Impero, just how forceful is anyone’s guess, but it’s coming. Count on it.
Iran ‘confiscates’ British tanker with 23 crew on board ‘for failing to respect maritime rules’ in major escalation of tensions in the Gulf as fears mounted over second vessel
FROM DAILY MAIL UK: The Stena Impero was passing through the bottleneck into the Persian Gulf when it turned dramatically to the north at 4pm, UK time. The vessel was surrounded by heavily-armed small craft and a helicopter and ordered to turn north.
A second oil tanker, the British-operated, Liberian-flagged Mesdar, turned sharply north towards Iran’s coast around the same time the Stena Impero was seized. Iranian authorities have yet to comment on the Mesdar, but marine tracking data showed it turning dramatically off course and towards the Iranian coast. The vessel had left Fujairah in Dubai and moved into the Strait of Hormuz when it was intercepted.
According to Iranian state TV, the Stena Impero tanker ‘was confiscated by the Revolutionary Guards at the request of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Organisation when passing through the strait of Hormuz, for failing to respect international maritime rules.’
The Foreign Office said it was seeking further information about the fate of the vessel and its crew. It is understood the British-flagged tanker was surrounded by small craft and helicopters and ordered to turn north into Iranian waters.
A statement from Stena Bulk, the company which owns the tanker, said the firm had lost contact with the crew of 23 after it was approached by ‘unidentified small crafts and a helicopter’ at around 4pm.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf.’
The UK Chamber of Shipping demanded extra protection for merchant vessels operating in the Persian Gulf. Bob Sanguinetti, CEO of the Chamber said: ‘We condemn unreservedly the capture of Stena Impero as she transited the Strait of Hormuz earlier today.
‘This incident represents an escalation. Whilst we call for measured response, it is also clear that further protection for merchant vessels must be forthcoming to ensure enhanced security to guarantee free flow of trade in the region.’
The incident came as Iran and the United States emphatically disagreed Friday over Washington’s claim that a U.S. warship downed an Iranian drone near the Persian Gulf. American officials said they used electronic jamming to bring down the unmanned aircraft, while Iran said it simply didn’t happen. Neither side provided evidence to prove its claim.
At the White House on Friday, President Donald Trump said flatly of the Iranian drone: ‘We shot it down.’ But Pentagon and other officials have said repeatedly that the USS Boxer, a Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz, actually jammed the drone’s signal, causing it to crash, and did not fire a missile. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive technology.
Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said, ‘There is no question this was an Iranian drone, and the USS Boxer took it out as the president announced yesterday because it posed a threat to the ship and its crew. It’s entirely the right thing to do.’
In Tehran, the Iranian military said all its drones had returned safely to their bases and denied there was any confrontation with the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship.
Earlier today, Gibraltar’s Supreme Court announced it would extend by 30 days the detention of an Iranian tanker seized two weeks ago on allegations that it was headed to Syria in violation of sanctions.
British authorities’ detention of the Grace 1 supertanker sparked outrage in Tehran, which accused London of doing the bidding of the Washington in action that is ‘tantamount to maritime banditry’. On Tuesday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused the ‘vicious British’ of ‘piracy’ and vowed retaliation. READ MORE
Iran Captures 2 British Tankers
Iran reportedly seized the British tankers Stena Impero and the Mesdar off the coast of Iran in and near the Strait of Hormuz. Get the latest details in our LIVE BREAKING NEWS COVERAGE. The UK-flagged tanker Stena Impero made a sudden turn toward Iran several hours ago while in the Strait of Hormuz, and has not broadcast its position in over an hour. The UK Ministry of Defense said it’s aware of a British tanker moving off course toward Iran, but has given no further comment. Iran has threatened to detain a British tanker in response to Britain’s seizing an Iranian tanker earlier this month. The UK suspected that the tanker was violating sanctions on Syria.
US Officials Say Iran Seized British Oil Tanker
US officials say that Iran has seized a British tanker in the Persian Gulf. CNN’s Barbara Starr reports.
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