British foreign secretary says he will announce measures after Iran seized two British oil tankers.
A U.K. nuclear-powered submarine along with Royal Marine Commandos could be dispatched to reinforce British naval forces in the Gulf in the aftermath of Iran’s seizing on Friday of two British oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, reports The Sun.
The potential scenario was discussed at meetings of the Cobra emergency response committee, which responds to national or regional crises, says the British newspaper.
It reported that commandos from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard had stormed a UK-flagged oil tanker, the Stena Impero, taking the 23 crew members captive.
A Royal Navy frigate, the HMS Montrose, reportedly “steamed to its aid but arrived ten minutes after it was diverted into Iranian waters,” said the British daily.
Iranian troops also boarded a second tanker, the British-owned Mesdar, but later allowed it to continue its journey to Saudi Arabia, said The Sun.
Iranian senior officials insisted on Saturday that the seizure of the Stena Impero was a response to Britain’s role in impounding an Iranian supertanker earlier.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard said on state TV that the oil tanker had been boarded for “violating international maritime rules,” said the British newspaper.
Stena Bulk, the transport company which owns the ship, said that it had been in “full compliance with all navigation and international regulations,” the paper noted.
U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Britain’s response “will be considered but robust.”
In comments on Twitter on Saturday, he said that he had spoken with Iran’s foreign minister and expressed extreme disappointment that though the Iranian diplomat had assured him Tehran wanted to deescalate the situation, the Iranians “have behaved in the opposite way.”
Speaking to reporters later Saturday, Hunt said the “totally and utterly unacceptable” interception of the British-flagged Stena Impero “raises very serious questions about the security of British shipping and indeed international shipping” in the Strait of Hormuz.
One-fifth of all global crude exports passes through the strait from Mideast exporters to countries around the world. The narrow waterway sits between Iran and Oman.
The British foreign secretary said that he would announce additional measures in Parliament on Monday aimed at protecting the U.K. and international shipping.
The chairman of Britain’s House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said that military action to free the oil tanker seized by Iran would not be a good choice. Tom Tugendhat said Saturday it would be “extremely unwise” to seek a military solution to the escalating crisis, especially because the vessel has apparently been taken to a well-protected port.